Speech – 2016.11.29 – S-217 – Bail Law

MP Len Webber in the House of Commons



S-217 – Bail Law

November 29, 2016

Mr. Len Webber (Calgary Confederation, CPC):  Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to contribute to the debate on Bill S-217. I know my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton has done very good work on this Senate bill, and I thank him for that. I was happy to second this legislation.

His efforts are reflective of the expectations of his community. They have seen how the justice system can fail, and they have witnessed the deadly consequences.

This proposed legislation aims to correct a hole in our criminal justice system. In fact, most Canadians are completely astonished that the bill even needs to be brought forward.

The bill was drafted in response to the January 15, 2015, murder of RCMP Constable David Wynn and the wounding of Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond in Edmonton. By any reasonable assessment, the killer in this case should not have been free on the street at the time of the killing. His rap sheet was unbelievable, yet he freely roamed the streets.

The killer had faced hundreds of charges as an adult, and his criminal record had dozens of convictions. He had been convicted for violent offences. He routinely failed to attend court when required. He had served a number of jail terms, including two stints in a federal penitentiary. That is not all. At the time of Constable Wynn’s death, the killer was facing 29 charges and was under two firearms and weapons bans. How the hell was this man on the street? The killer was arrested—

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes):  I remind the member to use parliamentary language in the House.

Mr. Len Webber (Calgary Confederation, CPC):  Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was not aware that “hell” was an unparliamentary word to use. I can think of other things I would like to say even worse than that, but how the heck was this man on the streets?

The killer was arrested several months earlier on a number of charges, including possession of a prohibited weapon. There was also a warrant for his arrest for charges from the previous year when he had failed to attend court. Instead, he was out on bail, a paltry bail at that, a measly $4,500. How could this be? How was he not detained in custody on any of the existing grounds already within the law to ensure his attendance in court, to protect public safety, and to maintain confidence in this justice system.

Sadly, hindsight is 20/20. The court never heard anything about his lengthy criminal record, his complete disrespect in the past for the courts, his failure to appear, his ignoring of court orders, and the like.

Now here we are today, wishing to correct this Criminal Code, and we are astonished that the Liberal government will not.

Section 515 of the Criminal Code lays out the rules regarding what is known as bail in Canada. Formally it is known as judicial interim release. Subsection 515(10) lists the reasons justifying why the accused should remain in custody. It also addresses issues around the need to ensure the accused’s attendance in court, to protect public safety, and to maintain confidence in the administration of justice.

When judges are faced with determining whether an accused should be kept in jail or not, we would think that they would take into consideration whether the accused has failed to appear in court on a previous occasion. Can the accused be trusted? Is the accused facing, but not yet convicted on, other charges at the same time? It is hard to imagine, but the current law does not require that the judge in the case be made aware of these types of things. It is unbelievable.

Clause 1 of the bill would amend this. Its goal is the maintaining of confidence in the administration of justice, specifically—

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes):  I apologize to the hon. member for interrupting. However, it is now 7:35 p.m., and the time provided for consideration of private members’ business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The member will have five minutes and 10 seconds left in his speech the next time this matter is before the House.