Cooper reflects on the year

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MP says Wynn's law was both his high and low point

St. Albert MP Michael Cooper said Wynn’s law defined his year as a politician.

He said that both the highlight and the low point of 2017 came from the proposed legislation.

Cooper said that the highlight of his year was when Wynn’s law passed second reading in the house. The bill was the only bill that was introduced by the opposition that passed second reading.

“It was quite an achievement to have gotten as far as it did in terms of passing second reading,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he worked hard to get the bill passed in second reading and met with individual Liberal MPs to convince them to vote for the bill. He said the bill would not have made it as far as it did without the advocacy work Shelly MacInnis-Wynn did on behalf of the legislation.

MacInnis-Wynn is the widow of RCMP Const. David Wynn who was shot to death at Apex Casino in St. Albert in 2015 while attempting to arrest a man out on warrants. That man (Shawn Rehn) was out on bail despite 30 outstanding charges and a lengthy criminal record. Those previous charges had not been mentioned during a bail hearing that allowed him to go free. The proposed legislation would have closed that loophole and made it mandatory that the accused criminal history be disclosed at bail.

“Shelly Wynn’s involvement really made a difference. Giving it a real human perspective about what this change in the Criminal Code could mean all together made the difference in getting it past the second reading stage,” Cooper said.

The lowest point for him came only a little while later, when the bill did not pass final reading.

“It was disappointing. It was a case of the government putting politics ahead of public safety. That was the low point for me of this year,” Cooper said.

The deputy justice critic said that he will continue to fight for Wynn’s law but doesn’t think it can pass in the current parliament.

Cooper said that he is also frustrated that there has not been more movement on removing zombie laws from the Criminal Code. Around one year ago Cooper and Bret McCann held a press conference in St. Albert asking the justice minister to move legislation forward to remove the outdated laws from the Criminal Code.

McCann’s parents (Lyle and Marie McCann) were killed by Travis Vader and during the sentencing the judge made an error when he used a zombie law, or law that has been ruled unconstitutional. Vader had to be re-sentenced months later.

In March the government introduced legislation that would remove the unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code but since then the bill has stalled.

“It’s just clearly not a priority of the government. I’m baffled as to why it hasn’t moved forward. There is not reason why it shouldn’t,” Cooper said.

Travel

Along with his regular travel between Ottawa and his riding in the St. Albert area, Cooper went on four parliamentary delegation trips throughout the year.

Cooper spent time in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Romania, Taiwan and China this year. In Romania the MP attended the NATO assembly where Russia was a hot topic.

On Jan. 12 Cooper will be headed overseas again on another parliamentary delegation, this time to Vietnam.

The house will begin sitting again on Jan. 29.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.