Manitoba MP's request to deny Vince Li freedom 'profoundly troubling,' law prof says
Justice was served for not criminally responsible killer, Archie Kaiser says
Mental health law Prof. Archie Kaiser calls Conservative MP James Bezan's request to designate Vince Li a high-risk NCR person and deny him more freedom "profoundly troubling."
Li was found not criminally responsible for beheading 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in 2008 because he was mentally ill at the time. Li has changed his name to Will Baker, as part of his treatment plan of reintegration into the community.
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On Monday, his treatment team recommended a discharge with conditions, prompting a statement from the Manitoba MP for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman.
Bezan wants the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board to deny Vince Li's request to live independently in the community.
"I am asking the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board to deny Will Baker's [Vince Li's] request to live independently. Will Baker, regardless of the name that he goes by, still beheaded and cannibalized Tim McLean, and to allow him to live independently is an insult to his victim's family," Bezan wrote in the statement.
"I am very concerned about Tim McLean's family, who has yet to see justice served, and I express my condolences to the family for this callous request. In my opinion, this request poses a great risk to public safety," Bezan said.
Kaiser, a law professor at Dalhousie University, said Bezan's comments are "fanning people's fears and propagating stigma [rather] than respectfully advancing the public's understanding of the purposes of our criminal code."
Kaiser said the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board is composed of experts who should be trusted.
"When do you hear politicians meddling in the criminal justice system so excessively?" he said. "I think it's profoundly troubling in a democratic society."
Kaiser said he sympathizes with McLean's family but feels justice has been served for Li.
"While the family may still feel that justice would have only been served by retribution and punishment, that's actually a value that's inconsistent with the way Canada deals with persons who are found not criminally responsible," he said.
"The law does not merely exist to suit the felt emotional needs of families who are profoundly grieving, so I wish he hadn't brought that into it," Kaiser said.