Edmonton media outlets go to court to live broadcast Vader verdict

The verdict in the Travis Vader murder trial will be handed down Sept. 15. A media consortium will ask Justice Denny Thomas Wednesday for permission to broadcast his decision live.

Judge to hear application from media consortium Wednesday afternoon

Travis Vader, 44, was found guilty of manslaughter in deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann. (CBC)

Edmonton media want the public to witness the moment when a judge declares whether accused murderer Travis Vader is guilty or innocent.

On Wednesday, CBC and other Edmonton media outlets will ask Court of Queen's Bench Justice Denny Thomas to allow a  television camera into his courtroom to livestream the long-awaited decision Sept. 15.

Vader is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the July, 2010 deaths of St. Albert seniors Lyle and Marie McCann.

The couple's son Bret said he hopes the media's application is successful. 

"Absolutely. I think it's a good idea," he said. 

"Our family is intensely interested in next week's verdict and Justice Thomas' s rationale, and know that many in the Canadian public are as well," he said. "Openness and transparency in the Canadian justice system is very important."

Lyle and Marie McCann were last seen alive in July 2010. Their bodies have never been found. (Supplied)

A CBC affidavit supporting the media's application and filed with the court states: "The unusual length of time that this investigation, prosecution and trial has taken, especially given allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, has only increased the public's desire to see the conclusion of this case. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on the police investigation of the McCanns disappearance and to prosecute Mr. Vader. The public has a significant economic interest in this case."

Prominent Edmonton lawyer Fred Kozak will represent the media consortium in court Wednesday afternoon.

"I think allowing a camera in a courtroom gives spirit and greater meaning to the concept of an open judicial system," he said. "Because there are many people who take an active interest in our judicial system who simply can't attend court proceedings. So they're effectively shut out from seeing and hearing what goes on in the courtroom."

The first time a camera was allowed into a Canadian courtroom was over a quarter of a century ago. Since then many Canadian provinces and the Supreme Court of Canada have allowed cameras to record proceedings. 

But so far that has not happened in Alberta. 


Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston is an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who has covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca.