Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Conservative MP Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton), the Official Opposition Deputy Shadow Minister of Justice, and Bret McCann, the son of murder victims Lyle and Marie McCann, remain frustrated that the Liberal government has failed to move Bill C-39 past first reading since it was introduced by the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, one year ago on March 8, 2017. Bill C-39 would repeal unconstitutional and inoperative sections of the Criminal Code, known as “zombie laws”.
In September 2016, an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Judge convicted Travis Vader of two counts of second degree murder of Lyle and Marie McCann by applying a section of the Criminal Code that had been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990. Consequently, the convictions of Vader were vacated causing enormous anguish to the McCann family who had waited six long years to see justice done.
Cooper made the following statement:
Removing sections of the Criminal Code that are unconstitutional is common-sense. There is no real opposition to Bill C-39. If the Liberals want to pass Bill C-39 they can do so very easily. It’s time that they did.
The McCann family has suffered the consequences of inaction to remove unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code. The Vader case wasn’t the first time a judge in error applied an unconstitutional section of the Criminal Code. Without the swift passage of Bill C-39, it is a matter of time before this happens again. In light of what happened to the McCann family there is no excuse for the Liberals to sit on their hands and do nothing.
McCann made the following statement:
The consternation and pain endured by my family because of this so-called zombie law was enormous.
While this seemed unbelievable at the time, I have since learned that there are many sections of the Criminal Code which are obsolete and/or have been deemed unconstitutional.
On March 8, 2017, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced Bill C-39 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unconstitutional provisions)) that would address this problem.
On January 31, 2018, we received correspondence from the Minister, in which she reassured us that our tragic ordeal has been front and centre for her. She indicated that she would seek unanimous consent in the House of Commons to move Bill C-39 forward expeditiously.
As we write this in March of 2018, we are frustrated that the Bill continues to be stuck at first reading after a year since its introduction. Indeed, the Minister has done nothing to move Bill C-39 forward even though the House sat for several weeks in February. We are concerned that the Bill has not yet been moved forward ‘expeditiously’.
But, we are encouraged to see that our Government recognizes these issues in the Criminal Code and is taking action to address them.
During our family’s ordeal we have seen that key institutions in our country have recognized problems, and responded correctly.
The RCMP initially did not respond to the destruction of our parents’ motorhome, allowing valuable time and potential evidence to be lost. But the RCMP ultimately responded with a huge investigation, compiled a compelling and complete case and brought the perpetrator to justice.
The Crown stayed the charges when the disclosure process was failing. But the Crown then re-evaluated all the evidence, reopened the charges and prosecuted successfully.
The Court used an obsolete section of the Criminal Code to find for a 2nd degree Murder verdict. But Justice Thomas corrected this and found for a Manslaughter verdict.
We have seen that these important segments of our Canadian society can make mistakes. But they do not just ignore the problem, and in the end do what is right. This makes us proud to be Canadians.
We hope that Bill C-39 is indeed passed through Parliament expeditiously – and future families will not need to suffer the heartache that an inaccurate Criminal Code can cause.
For further information, media may contact:
Office of Michael Cooper, M.P.
Tel: 613.996.4722 | cell: 902.818.9950