Straightforward, Life-saving Bill Denied as a Result of Partisan Politics

June 29, 2017

The primary role of government is to make sure that its citizens are safe. It’s that simple. In order to do this, the proper tools must be in place to keep our streets safe, and criminals behind bars.

Bill S-217, otherwise known as Wynn’s law, was meant to be one of those additional tools. This was a common-sense bill, but as is so often said, common sense is not so common. Right before the House of Commons rose for the summer, the Liberal Government chose to defeat Wynn’s law, putting partisan politics ahead of the safety of Canadians.

So what exactly would Wynn’s Law have done and how did it come about? This Bill was introduced to prevent a repeat of the tragic error that cost RCMP Constable David Wynn his life in January 2015. Wynn was murdered and another officer wounded as they tried to apprehend a dangerous career criminal who had jumped bail.

Any time that an individual is murdered in this country, it’s a tragedy, but when a police officer is murdered in the line of duty, it’s not only a tragedy, it’s an outrage that is felt across our country. What makes the murder of Constable Wynn much worse is that it was completely preventable.

The killer, Shawn Rehn, shouldn’t have been on the street and he wouldn’t have been had this law been in place.

Rehn had a long criminal record and was facing a raft of other charges when he appeared in an Alberta courtroom in September 2014. But Rehn’s horrendous record was not even mentioned at his bail hearing.

The justice released Shawn Rehn and, considering his past record of ignoring court orders, it is not surprising that he failed to appear in court. Four months later, Constable David Wynn paid for the justice system’s failure with his life when he was murdered while trying to arrest Rehn. He left behind a wife and three young sons.

Wynn’s Law would have required that an accused’s criminal record be introduced at a bail hearing. This information is both relevant and necessary for an informed decision on a bail application. This information is often presented at bail hearings, but not always, which was the case with Shawn Rehn’s release.

As it stands, a loophole exists that likely cost Constable Wynn his life. Wynn’s law would have ensured that this information is always presented, and would have closed that loophole. I believe that had that been done in this case, Shawn Rehn would not have been released, and Constable Wynn would still be with his family today.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government used their majority in the House of Commons to stop this Bill from becoming law. Their argument was that it could result in court delays. By trying to grasp at straws and come up with some kind of argument, the Liberals are claiming that efficiency is more important than the lives of Canadians.

This is absurd. The potential for adding a few extra minutes at a bail hearing is a small price to pay compared to the loss of Constable Wynn. Indeed, it was an efficient hearing, but it ended up having fatal consequences.

Our Conservative caucus stands united in support of this potentially life-saving legislation and are disappointed that the Liberals chose to defeat it.