WATCH ABOVE: Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced a proposal to repeal of Section 230 of the Criminal Code, which was mistakenly used to convict Travis Vader. The law had been deemed unconstitutional in 1990.
The Liberal government is taking steps to strip so-called zombie laws out of the Criminal Code after one was wrongly cited by a judge during a high-profile murder trial in Alberta.
Zombie laws are sections of the law that remain in the Criminal Code despite having been struck down by the courts. Most have gone unnoticed on the books for years and even decades.
The issue of zombie laws was thrust into the spotlight last year after Justice Denny Thomas used a section of the Criminal Code that had been declared unconstitutional to convict Travis Vader of second-degree murder. Vader was, at the time, accused of killing Lyle and Marie McCann of St. Albert.
The section under question, Section 230, allows for a murder verdict if a wrongful death occurs during the commission of another crime, such as robbery. However, Section 230 was declared unconstitutional in 1990 by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Watch below: Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould comments on the proposed repeal of Section 230, saying the Travis Vader case was the only one considered and that it was “high” in media attention.
Bret McCann, Lyle and Marie’s son, held a press conference in December calling on the Liberals to remove the inoperative sections of the Criminal Code.
“When this happened back in September, this was a complete surprise to me that we had these obsolete section in the code,” McCann said from Australia Wednesday. “I must admit that night was quite traumatic for my family, and we were quite frustrated about it.”
“I think it’s something positive to look at to come out of this whole tragedy related to my parents.”
Vader was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years. The defence is appealing both his conviction and life sentence.
McCann, at the sentencing, reiterated his commitment to push Ottawa to remove the outdated clauses.
Following the botched verdict, Wilson-Raybould promised a review of unconstitutional Criminal Code provisions, with the view of updating the laws to reflect high court decisions. She said the review would be part of a larger review of the criminal justice system.
“I thought that this might take years or decades to get corrected,” McCann said. “It should not have happened in the first place, but to see it corrected within months, is a good thing I think.”
— With files from Emily Mertz and Caley Ramsay, Global News, Kyle Morris, 630 CHED and The Canadian Press.