Ques­tions about our jus­tice sys­tem

Ottawa Citizen - - OPINION -

There has been much out­rage over the ver­dict in the Colton Boushie killing, and, with­out doubt, Indigenous peo­ple have not al­ways been treated fairly by Canadian so­ci­ety nor by our le­gal sys­tem. I can only imag­ine the pain and an­guish the “not guilty” ver­dict has gen­er­ated.

But with­out know­ing the de­tails of the ev­i­dence pre­sented, nor the de­lib­er­a­tions by the jury, it is hard for me to form the con­clu­sion that jus­tice was not done. Ger­ald Stan­ley de­cided that it was ap­pro­pri­ate to fire a gun as a warn­ing at peo­ple he per­ceived to be tres­passers. Was this de­ci­sion le­gal? Was the jury asked to con­sider if Mr. Stan­ley’s ac­tion was un­rea­son­able? Could he have been charged with a lesser of­fence?

Had the jury con­sisted of all-Indigenous peo­ple rather than “all white,” would the ver­dict have been dif­fer­ent? If so, then we must ask our­selves if it was the makeup of the jury, not the ev­i­dence pre­sented, that de­ter­mined the fate of the ac­cused. If the answer is “yes,” then we must ac­knowl­edge a prob­lem with our jury sys­tem.

Was the jury re­flec­tive of the peers of Mr. Stan­ley? Should the jury have been re­flec­tive of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion? Should the jury have had mem­bers who rep­re­sented the vic­tim’s cul­ture? The law is an im­pre­cise in­stru­ment, as is the de­ter­mi­na­tion of guilt or in­no­cence.

David Polk, Ot­tawa


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