Alberta accused of bungling McConnell case

EDMONTON — Alberta’s attorney general has bungled the case of a woman ordered deported after killing her children and is now making inflammatory comments that border on professional misconduct, the woman’s lawyer said Tuesday.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s attorney general has bungled the case of a woman ordered deported after killing her children and is now making inflammatory comments that border on professional misconduct, the woman’s lawyer said Tuesday.

Peter Royal, in a letter released to the media, said the office of Jonathan Denis had almost six months notice that Allyson McConnell was going to be deported to her native Australia and did nothing about it.

“Simply doing the math would lead to the inevitable conclusion that (McConnell) was to be released on April 4,” wrote Royal, who noted that a deportation order from the federal government was issued on Oct. 18, 2012.

“We fail to see how this (deportation) could have taken the minister by surprise.”

McConnell was found guilty last April of drowning her two young sons, but a Crown appeal of the sentence and conviction has yet to be heard.

Royal said the attorney general’s office did not ask to have the appeal hearing moved up and didn’t contact his office to see if McConnell would agree to return to Canada if her sentence were extended.

He also said that the province’s appeal was delayed for months because the Crown missed deadlines to file background information with the court.

“(Denis) suggested that all reasonable steps had been taken to prosecute this appeal. That is simply not the case,” said Royal.

But Greg Lepp, assistant deputy minister of justice responsible for prosecutions, maintained Tuesday there was nothing the province could have done.

“There was no basis upon which to move it up,” he said.

“Even on an expedited basis, the appeals could not have been heard before she was released and either deported or free to leave Canada of her own volition.”

Royal’s comments echo remarks from federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who is in charge of deportations. In a written statement last Friday, Toews chided Alberta for not taking action on the appeal.

“It is unfortunate that the Alberta government did not act prior to Ms. McConnell’s release in order to prevent this situation from occurring,” said Toews.

McConnell reportedly flew home to Gosford, Australia, late Monday.

She was convicted of manslaughter for drowning her two-year-old son, Connor, and his 10-month old brother, Jayden, in a bathtub in the family’s home south of Edmonton in February 2010. The children were found by their father Curtis McConnell. The couple was involved in an acrimonious divorce and custody fight.

The same day the father found his boys, his wife drove to Edmonton, jumped off a freeway overpass and seriously injured herself.

She was kept in psychiatric care from then on and remained so after she was sentenced last June to six years. She was given credit for the more than two years she had spent in pretrial custody, so had 15 months left to serve. She completed two-thirds of her remaining sentence by last week and so, by law, had to be released.

Regardless of the deportation order, McConnell had already indicated at her trial she planned to go home to Australia if she were released.

The case has outraged Curtis McConnell and his family. They have told the media that the government has told them little about the case and that they want a longer sentence for his former wife.

Denis is also publicly pushing for harsher punishment. He said the Crown will pursue its appeal and will push to have McConnell brought back if her sentence is extended.

“Our department filed the appeal immediately and has left no stone unturned whatsoever,” Denis told the house during question period Tuesday.

“We’re dealing with two dead children and a grieving family,” he added.

“We will not stop until justice is served in this province.”

Royal suggested Denis is out of bounds for publicly stumping for a longer sentence in a case still before the courts.

“For the attorney general to descend into the arena and make these sorts of comments is entirely inappropriate and indeed may constitute professional misconduct as a lawyer,” said Royal, who declined an interview with The Canadian Press.

Critics from the three opposition parties agreed.

“It’s completely inappropriate for an attorney general who has direct impact on, for example, the compensation of judges as well as the judicial system in general to be commenting on a specific case and trying to influence the outcome,” said Wildrose critic Shayne Saskiw.

Added Liberal critic Laurie Blakeman: “If I can go to my minister of justice and say, ’I’d like you to come out on my behalf this time,’ then there’s a good argument they’re going to have to come out on somebody else’s side next time.

“All of a sudden what we don’t have is not an independent court, but something that is influence-able by the highest bidder.”

NDP critic Rachel Notley said “the conflict is big.”

“We have a minister who is making decisions about courthouses, about support for courthouses, about support staff in courthouses, about schedule matters, about laws that govern lawyers,” said Notley.

“He has extensive control over the whole judicial system.

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

A Comox Valley 55+ baseball team isa being organized for the 2021 season. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
18U AAA Carstar Braves start season strong

The Red Deer Carstar 18U AAA Carstar Braves started the Baseball Alberta… Continue reading

(Contributed image).
Online poetry reading to benefit Red Deer women experiencing period poverty

The Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse is a central Alberta collective of some… Continue reading

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is firing back against the coterie of party… Continue reading

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan leaves the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clears Senate

OTTAWA — A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) flips a shot on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Russian goalies highlight Lightning-Islanders series

NEW YORK — Semyon Varlamov is the wily veteran, coming off a… Continue reading

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime reacts during his ATP Tour Singles, Men, Round of 16 tennis match against Switzerland's Roger Federer in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Friso Gentsch-dpa via AP
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Roger Federer in second round of Noventi Open

HALLE, Germany — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest victories… Continue reading

A course official keeps out of the sun on the seventh green during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A different US Open than imagined at Torrey Pines

The spectacular ocean vistas will fill TV screens as usual, along with… Continue reading

A commuter pumps gas into their vehicle at a Esso gas station in Toronto on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Statistics Canada will say this morning how fast prices rose in May compared to the same month one year earlier amid expectations of a hot inflation figure for the second month in a row. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Annual inflation rate climbs to 3.6 per cent in May, highest in a decade

OTTAWA — Prices across the country rose at their fastest annual rate… Continue reading

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

OTTAWA — Better protections for the rights of air travellers, immediate refunds… Continue reading

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson speaks to media during the Liberal cabinet retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Wilkinson says Ottawa will step in to conduct assessments of new coal mines that could release the contaminant selenium.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma
Ottawa to review new steelmaking coal projects in Alberta’s foothills for selenium

The federal government will step in to conduct an environmental review of… Continue reading

Most Read