Edmonton

McCann family frustrated by federal foot-dragging on zombie laws

Bill C-39 stuck at first reading since introduction one year ago

Lydia Neufeld - CBC News

March 08, 2018

Bret McCann responds to the introduction on Mar. 8, 2017 of a federal bill to address zombie laws in the Criminal Code. (Emilio Avalos/CBC)

Bret McCann says he's frustrated that federal legislation aimed at purging the Criminal Code of so-called zombie laws is seeing no movement in the House of Commons after it was introduced one year ago.

"The minister has done nothing to move Bill C-39 forward even though the House sat for several weeks in February," said McCann in a statement Thursday.

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McCann blames outdated laws that are still in the Criminal Code for derailing the verdict in a six-year criminal trial revolving around the disappearance of his parents, Lyle and Marie McCann.

An Edmonton judge convicted Travis Vader on two counts of second-degree murder in September 2016.

But the judge had relied on a section of law that was deemed unconstitutional nearly 27 years ago. The judge later vacated the convictions and substituted guilty verdicts on two charges of manslaughter.

Vader was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 25, 2017.

"The consternation and pain endured by my family because of this so-called zombie law was enormous," McCann said.

McCann said he has since learned there are many sections of the Criminal Code which are obsolete or have been deemed unconstitutional.

On Mar. 8, 2017 Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced Bill C-39, the act to amend the Criminal Code, to address the problem.

While it has been introduced in the House of Commons, nothing has been done to move it forward, McCann said.

In a letter he received in January, the minister reassured the family she would seek unanimous consent to move the bill forward expeditiously, he said.

"We are concerned that the bill has not yet been moved forward expeditiously," McCann said.

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