Questioning Li's advanced freedom

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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Vince Li is gaining increased freedom. 

The man who beheaded fellow Greyhound passenger Tim McLean — about 30-km west of Portage la Prairie, Man., on July 30, 2008 — has been granted the right to leave his mental hospital unescorted.

Since being found not criminally responsible for McLean’s murder in March 2009, Li has resided at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in Selkirk, Man.

In 2012, Li was granted the ability to venture into Selkirk provided a security guard, or staff member escorted him. He will now be able to do so on his own.

While the 2012 decision was greeted with public outrage, Thursday’s decision by the Criminal Code Review Board (CCRB) is sure to draw the ire of many in Selkirk, nearby Winnipeg and across the country.

Although Li’s psychiatrist told the CCRB Li no longer suffers from delusions or goes into violent rage, that is little consolation to McLean’s mother whose son is never coming back.

If a man like Li can be free to go as he pleases in Selkirk, individuals residing in Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre after being found not criminally responsible for murdering others could potentially be free to walk the streets of the Bridge City.

Given that Li’s case involved beheading and cannibalism, the decision to increase his freedom is suspect at best. Psychiatrists are intellectually gifted people, but can they predict relapses by individuals with extreme pasts like Li? The potential that he could again become delusional and snap at a moment’s notice should frighten people who live in Selkirk.

Li’s actions on that Greyhound bus was unpredictable and they remain so, despite years of therapy.

He will freely be able to walk into a grocery store or a restaurant, and people will surely sneer at him and question why he is anywhere but at an institution.

If a similar decision were to be made in Saskatchewan, you can bet those snickers would resound across the province. While the CCRB’s decision has the potential to turn a family’s life into a living nightmare, let’s hope Li doesn’t relapse, otherwise someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.

Organizations: CCRB, Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Selkirk, Portage la Prairie, Winnipeg Saskatoon Bridge City Saskatchewan

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