WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Official Opposition says a man who beheaded a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus should be kept behind a fence at all times — even if the government has to override an independent criminal review board.
“I don’t think anybody with a shred of common sense can agree with a recommendation to allow somebody who less than two years ago beheaded somebody on a bus … to wander on the grounds of a facility where there’s no barrier between that individual and the community,” Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said Tuesday.
The Manitoba Review Board, an independent provincial body guided by the federal Criminal Code of Canada, is considering the fate of Vince Li.
Li was found not criminally responsible for the grisly killing of Tim McLean on a bus near Portage la Prairie, Man., almost two years ago. Li has been in a secure section of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, but his psychiatrist is recommending that he be allowed short walks on the hospital’s unfenced grounds. Li would be accompanied by at least two staff members at all times.
McLean’s family has opposed the idea, as has the lead Crown attorney in the case. The board is expected to make a decision by the end of the week.
The government rejected the idea of overriding any board decision.
“You know, it is an independent board,” Attorney General Andrew Swan said. “Their role is to fulfil a mandate under the federal Criminal Code. Our government cannot overrule what’s contained in the Criminal Code of Canada.”
McFadyen suggested Swan has some discretion in the matter and can set policies for housing people such as Li in hospitals. He also suggested that Swan could revoke appointments of the review board’s members if need be, or send Li to a more-secure facility in another province.
“The reality is that the province has broad powers,” McFadyen said. “There does have to be accountability ultimately at the level of government as well as at the level of this (board).”
A proposal to grant an inmate 15 supervised minutes of outdoor air and sunshine every day might not normally stir up political controversy. But the horrific details of Li’s random attack are still fresh in the minds of many.
After a rest stop in western Manitoba, Li reboarded the bus and sat next to McLean, a 22-year-old carnival worker heading home to Winnipeg from Edmonton. McLean was listening to music on his headphones, with his eyes closed.
Suddenly, Li stood up and started stabbing McLean repeatedly as horrified passengers looked on. He carved up the body and scattered it around the bus. Part of McLean’s heart and his eyes were never found.
As people scrambled to get off the bus and police surrounded it, witnesses reported seeing Li holding McLean’s head in the air, taunting officers.
Because Li was found not criminally responsible for the attack due to untreated schizophrenia, his stay at the hospital must be reviewed annually by the board.