‘We can do bet­ter’: PM

Trudeau vows to ‘fix the sys­tem’ af­ter Boushie trial

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - Metro News -

The fam­ily of a slain young Cree man met with Trudeau gov­ern­ment min­is­ters Mon­day, and af­ter­wards is­sued a quiet but force­ful call for change, say­ing re­forms to jury-se­lec­tion rules in the wake of his killer’s ac­quit­tal are one “quick fix.”

Hours later it ap­peared their voices and the voices of hun­dreds of sup­port­ers had been heard at the high­est level.

“We have a prob­lem. We have much we need to do to­gether to fix the sys­tem in the spirit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. That’s ex­actly what we’re go­ing to be do­ing,” Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau told the House of Com­mons

Af­ter week­end demon­stra­tions of out­rage in the face of a jury’s de­ci­sion to clear Saskatchewan farmer Ger­ald Stan­ley in the 2016 death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, Trudeau said changes are afoot.

Trudeau ex­tended sym­pa­thy to the young man’s fam­ily as he did Fri­day on Twit­ter, and de­fended his com­ments, say­ing it would be “com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on the specifics of this case.”

But he said “we un­der­stand that there are sys­temic is­sues in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem that we must ad­dress. We are com­mit­ted to broad-based re­form to ad­dress these is­sues.

“As a coun­try, we must and we can do bet­ter.”

In re­sponse to NDP de­mands for “con­crete steps” to ad­dress the is­sue, Trudeau agreed that the over­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Indigenous per­sons in Canada’s pris­ons and their un­der­rep­re­sen­ta­tion on ju­ries and in ju­ry­s­e­lec­tion pools is a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem and said his gov­ern­ment would ad­dress it.

When the NDP asked if the Lib­er­als would tar­get jury-se­lec­tion rules in the crim­i­nal code, which now al­low an ac­cused’s le­gal team to de­cline the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a po­ten­tial ju­ror with no ex­pla­na­tion — this is called a peremp­tory chal­lenge — the jus­tice min­is­ter said this will be in­cluded in changes un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in broader- based re­form of crim­i­nal jus­tice.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-ray­bould, who with Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale, will meet with Colten Boushie’s fam­ily Tues­day, promised she will en­gage with the Com­mons jus­tice com­mit­tee on pro­posed re­forms.

The slain youth’s mother Deb­bie Bap­tiste, cousin Jade Tootoosis and un­cle Alvin Bap­tiste, along with fam­ily lawyer Chris Mur­phy, met Mon­day morn­ing with Carolyn Ben­nett and Jane Philpott, the cabi­net min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s deal­ings with Indigenous peo­ple.

Boushie’s fam­ily said they did not seek an ap­peal of the jury’s ac­quit­tal of Ger­ald Stan­ley on Fri­day, a de­ci­sion Mur­phy said is up to the at­tor­ney gen­eral of Saskatchewan.

But, they said, they came to build re­la­tion­ships with “peo­ple who can make a dif­fer­ence.”


Deb­bie Bap­tiste, the mother of colten Boushie, holds up a pic­ture of her son on the steps of the court of Queens Bench on the fifth day of the trial of Ger­ald Stan­ley in Bat­tle­ford, Sask., on Mon­day.

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