Glover rails against release

'It's the polar opposite of enlightened thinking:' Martin

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OTTAWA -- Manitoba's senior federal cabinet minister says the possibility the mentally ill man who beheaded Tim McLean in 2008 may soon be released into the community is why her government passed a law to designate such people as dangerous and keep them locked up.

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This article was published 25/02/2015 (2772 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Manitoba’s senior federal cabinet minister says the possibility the mentally ill man who beheaded Tim McLean in 2008 may soon be released into the community is why her government passed a law to designate such people as dangerous and keep them locked up.

Glover released an emailed statement late Monday, saying she was responding to a review panel hearing in which Vince Li’s doctors at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre recommended he be allowed to move first to Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre’s locked mental-health ward, and be given unescorted passes to go out into the city. They say he should eventually move to a high-security group home in Winnipeg.

“Our government stands firmly by our legislative changes through the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act and points out that this is exactly why we made them,” Glover said.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Shelly Glover: victims' rights come first

“Our government has worked hard to ensure that those who break the law are held accountable for their actions; that penalties match the severity of crimes committed; and that the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals. It is unacceptable that dangerous and violent offenders are released into our communities, when they pose a threat to society. We made changes to the Not Criminally Responsible Act to ensure that dangerous offenders at risk of reoffending are kept behind bars, where they belong.”

The law, introduced in 2013 and implemented last year, was brought about, in large part, because of the Li case. It allows someone found not criminally responsible to be designated by a court as high-risk to reoffend. If this designation is given, the person can’t be released from custody until a review board has a court revoke that designation. It can also deny unescorted passes to the person.

Victims of the person must also be informed when the NCR person is released and told of their living arrangements.

Although the government intended the law to be used retroactively, Li’s lawyer said Tuesday it will not affect Li because he was not designated as high-risk when he was found not criminally responsible for McLean’s death.

Li killed McLean in 2008 during a schizophrenic episode on a bus near Portage la Prairie while travelling between Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Since 2010, he has been allowed various privileges, starting with escorted walks on the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, followed by escorted trips into Selkirk, and for the last year, unescorted trips.

Neither the federal Liberals nor the federal NDP wanted to respond to Glover’s comments, however, Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said they do a “terrible disservice” to decades of work trying to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

“We thought we had turned the corner on mental-health awareness,” he said. “We have a senior political minister setting the tone. It’s the polar opposite of enlightened thinking.”

Martin said mental health-decisions should be left to medical professionals, not politicians, and said he is dismayed at the lack of political courage to stand up for people who are mentally ill.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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