Zachary’s Bill

Bill C-464 moves closer to be­com­ing law

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

Avalon MP Scott An­drews never had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing Zach­ery Turner. How­ever he wants to make sure the 13-month old’s life and death is never for­got­ten. Last week An­drews re­ceived unan­i­mous sup­port from mem­bers of the House of Com­mons Stand­ing Jus­tice Com­mit­tee for Bill C-464. The Pri­vate Mem­bers’ Bill, in­tro­duced by the MP on Oct. 23, 2009, seeks to change the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada by al­low­ing the courts to refuse bail to an ac­cused per­son in cus­tody if there is a ques­tion about the wel­fare of their own mi­nor chil­dren.

On Au­gust 18, 2003 Dr. Shirley Turner ( Zachary’s mother), who had been ac­cused of mur­der, jumped off a wharf in Fox­trap in Con­cep­tion Bay South with Zach­ery in her arms — both drowned. At the time Turner was await­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the U. S for the mur­der of Zachary’s fa­ther, An­drew Bagby.

While the ex­tra­di­tion process was mak­ing its way through the courts Shirley Turner was given cus­tody of Zachary, whom she gave birth to af­ter Bagby’s death. She fled to Con­cep­tion Bay South to try and out run the law as well as Zachary’s grand­par­ents Kate and David Bagby ( An­drew’s par­ents) who were seek­ing cus­tody of the child. In 2002 the Bag­bys moved to the prov­ince to be near their grand­son and to con­tinue their le­gal bat­tle for cus­tody.

Unan­i­mous sup­port

Since Zachary’s death the Bag­bys have been pre­sent­ing their story and lob­by­ing gov­ern­ment to change Canada’s bail poli­cies.

When Bill C-464 be­comes law it will help pre­vent what hap­pened to their fam­ily from hap­pen­ing to other fam­i­lies.

An­drews also wants to pro­tect other chil­dren from suf­fer­ing the same fate and is just a step away from achiev­ing that goal.

“Bill C-464 is an­other tool that’s go­ing to give courts the power to deny bail and pro­tect chil­dren un­der the age of 18,” said An­drews in an tele­phone in­ter­view with The Com­pass last Wed­nes­day. “It’s un­usual for a pri­vate Mem­bers Bill to get through a mi­nor­ity par­lia­ment and re­ceive unan­i­mous sup­port like this bill has, but that just proves how much it is needed.”

Dear Zachary

An­drews started work­ing with the Bag­bys to change the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada af­ter he saw the doc­u­men­tary “Dear Zachary” (A let­ter to a son about his fa­ther) pro­duced by Kurt Kuenne, a life­long friend of An­drew Bagby.

The doc­u­men­tary had such a pro­found im­pact on An­drews, af­ter­ward he and Se­na­tor Tommy Banks of Al­berta dis­trib­uted DVDs of it to ev­ery mem­ber of the House of Com­mons.

The MP says he knew right away his first Pri­vate Mem­bers Bill would fo­cus on bail re­form.

“ The doc­u­men­tary and Zachary’s death re­ally af­fected me,” he said. “It was some­thing that may have been pre­ventable and I wanted to try to do what­ever I could to keep it from hap­pen­ing to an­other fam­ily.”

The Bill, which has been aptly dubbed as Zachary’s Bill, was read in the House of Com­mons for the sec­ond time in De­cem­ber 2009. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the sup­port of all par­ties it went straight to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights where once again it got the green light.

“All that’s left now is for it to come back to the House for a third read­ing and then it will go off to the Se­nate where the amend­ments will be made and it’ ll be­come law,” said An­drews.

How­ever be­fore the bill can go back to the House of Com­mons for a third and fi­nal read­ing it will be added to a list of other bills wait­ing to be pre­sented.

When The Com­pass f irst spoke to An­drews last Wed­nes­day bill C-464 was at the bot­tom of the list, how­ever An­drews was hop­ing to have it moved up.

“If it stays where it is now, it might take a few months be­fore it goes to the Se­nate and the fi­nal leg­is­la­tion is in place,” he said.

“ But I’m hop­ing one of the other MPs, whose bills are higher on that list, will switch places so my bill can be read ear­lier.”

In less than an hour later An­drews called back to re­port that Nova Sco­tia MP Peter Stof­fer had agreed to the swap.

“ I can’t tell you how ex­cited I am about this,” said An­drews. “ This means Bill C-464 will be back in the House this week.”

Re­port

There are three key mes­sages in bill C464.1.

1. The pro­tec­tion and safety of mi­nors re­main­ing in the cus­tody of peo­ple charged with se­ri­ous crimes be con­sid­ered dur­ing bail hear­ings.

2.Ju­di­cial de­ci­sion mak­ers must be at­ten­tive for the ne­ces­sity to pro­tect mi­nors that re­main in cus­tody of peo­ple charged with se­ri­ous of­fences.

3. A de­ci­sion to deny bail to an ac­cused may be ap­pro­pri­ate for the in­tended pro­tec­tion of the rights and safety of mi­nors in the cus­tody of the ac­cused.

Mean­while in 2006, Dr. Peter Markesteyn con­ducted a Re­view and In­ves­ti­ga­tion of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of Zach­ery Turner in 2003 and con­cluded that Zach­ery Turner’s death was pre­ventable; and that he was in his mother’s care when he should not have been.

An­drews would like to know if the rec­om­men­da­tions made by Dr. Markesteyn in his re­port have been im­ple­mented.

“It’s time some­one took that re­port off the shelf, dusted it off and seen what has been done to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions,” said An­drews. “A thor­ough study of what has or has not been done is needed. It’s time to find out who has been car­ry­ing out the im­ple­men­ta­tions, how many im­ple­men­ta­tions have been car­ried out and if they haven’t been car­ried out, who is re­spon­si­ble?”

But be­fore An­drews goes looking for those an­swers this week he will be ris­ing in the House for the fi­nal time to read Zachary’s Bill. When he does he’ll be think­ing about the fa­ther and son whom al­though he never got to meet, were the in­spi­ra­tion and the driv­ing force be­hind bill C-464 and bail re­form in Canada.

“ This is an ac­com­plish­ment that re­flects the strength and determination of the par­ents and grand­par­ents of the late An­drew and Zachary,” said An­drews. “ It is in their mem­ory that we move this bill for­ward and do ev­ery­thing in our power to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing to an­other fam­ily.”

BAIL RE­FORM - Avalon MP Scott An­drews, cen­tre, asks mem­bers of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights to amend the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada to pro­tect chil­dren of peo­ple ac­cused of se­ri­ous crimes. Kate and David Bagby, grand­par­ents of 13month old Zachary Turner who was drowned by his mother Dr. Shirley Turner on Au­gust 18, 2003, sup­ported An­drews.

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