EDMONTON – A would-be politician in Alberta wants Canada to adopt a “no body, no parole” law that would give killers a chance at freedom if they revealed the locations of missing victims.
Dane Lloyd is vying for the federal Conservative nomination in the riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland west of Edmonton, the seat left vacant when the party’s interim leader Rona Ambrose left politics this summer.
He’s promising to introduce a private member’s bill calling for the law if he wins the nomination this weekend and is later elected to Parliament.
“I believe that withholding (the whereabouts of) the body of your victim is committing a second crime,” Lloyd, 26, said Wednesday. “It revictimizes the family every day, having to live without the knowledge of where their loved ones are, without the closure of a funeral.”
Lloyd said several jurisdictions in Australia have enacted such a law and he was inspired to push for it in Canada after meeting the family of Lyle and Marie McCann’s.
The seniors vanished after setting out from St. Albert, a city north of Edmonton, on a camping trip in 2010. Their burned-out motorhome and a vehicle they had been towing were later discovered in the bush.
Travis Vader, a drug user on the run from police, was convicted last year of manslaughter in their killings and sentenced to life with no chance of parole for seven years.
The bodies of the McCanns have never been found.
“Everyone in this community knows about the McCann case and Travis Vader,” said Lloyd. “And when I talk to them at the doors, they say, ‘This is just common sense. How is this not a law already?'”
Lloyd was working as a parliamentary adviser to St. Albert-Edmonton MP Michael Cooper when he met the McCann family last year. Cooper helped the family push for the elimination of an out-dated murder law that a judge initially used to convict Vader. The government moved in March to get rid of several so-called “zombie laws” from the Criminal Code.
Ottawa’s next move should be helping families get closure when they have no bodies to bury, said Lloyd.
He suggest that if killers revealed the location of remains, they would get a chance at parole —but not a guaranteed release.
Bret McCann said it’s a terrific idea.
“I don’t want to be wondering and I don’t want my whole family to be wondering, years and years from now: where are my parents?” McCann said.
“The whole purpose of our prison system is to rehabilitate these people, to reintegrate them back into society. And if they never acknowledge guilt and never tell the truth, then that’s a major obstacle.”
Defence lawyer James Lockyer with Innocence Canada said the problem with such a law is that people who are wrongfully convicted don’t know where the bodies are.
“They’re being ordered to produce something they can’t possibly produce.”
His client, Robert Baltovich, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain, who vanished on her way to a night class at the University of Toronto’s campus in Scarborough in 1990. Baltovich served eight years before a new trial was ordered on appeal.
The Crown agreed not to pursue a second trial if he told them where the woman’s body was, Lockyer said. But Baltovich couldn’t tell them what he didn’t know, and he was eventually acquitted by a jury.
In reality, the parole board already considers remorse and responsibility, said the lawyer. And it would be unlikely that a convicted killer who refused to help authorities locate a body would be released early.