Boushie aftermath points to need for justice system reform, says Wilson-Raybould

Boushie aftermath points to need for justice system reform, says Wilson-Raybould
From CBC - February 13, 2018

Concerns raised in the aftermath of a not-guilty verdict in Colten Boushie's shooting death highlight the need to reform the justice system, says Justice Minister JodyWilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale met with members of Boushie's family Tuesday morning. The family also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It was very honest, very emotional. We listened to their perspectives, how they are feeling right now," Wilson-Raybould told reporters.

"They reflected broadly on the criminal justice system and how we need to build relationships and work together to make improvements to the criminal justice system."

The Boushie case has dominated talk on Parliament Hill since farmer Gerald Stanley was found not guiltyFriday of second-degree murder for his role in the 22-year-old's death. The verdict sparked protests across the country over the weekend.

Reforms underway

Wilson-Raybould's department has been tasked with reviewing the criminal justice systemincluding sentencing, trial delays, the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoplein prisons and so-called 'peremptory challenges'.

Under Canada's Criminal Code, peremptory challenges allow defence lawyers and Crown prosecutors in a second-degree murder case to reject as many as 12 people from a jury without giving any reason.

Critics say the long-standing procedure can lead to discrimination against potential jurorsand can deliver a jury that is biased or lacks understanding of Indigenous cultural and social customs.

Some observers have argued the jury process in Boushie's case was biased because the defence team excluded five potential jurors who appeared to be Indigenous. CBC News has not independently determined the reason for their exclusion.

"Those reforms are coming. The reality of theBoushiefamily coming here and the elevation of the national consciousness on the challenges and systemic barriers that marginalize people facing the criminal justice system is very welcomed," Wilson-Raybould said.

Shesaid those reforms are coming "soon" but would not offer a timeline.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the jury selection process needs to be addressedand he is debating whether his party should be in favour of abolishing peremptory challenges.

"It's a discussion we need to have," he said.

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