Gerald Stanley, leaves the provincial court after the first day of preliminary hearing investigating the murder of Colten Boushie, in North Battleford, Sask. on Monday, April 3, 2017. The Liberal government is expected to introduce legislation aimed at overhauling the criminal justice system, including by making good on its promise to change the way people are selected to sit on juries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Liberals set to overhaul the criminal justice system

Liberals set to reform jury selection process following Colten Boushie case

The federal government has introduced legislation aimed at overhauling the criminal justice system, a measure that makes good on a Liberal promise to change the way juries are selected.

A number of visibly Indigenous people were excluded from the jury that last month acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, 22, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.

READ MORE: ‘Absolutely perverse’: Outrage after white farmer found not guilty in Indigenous death

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tabled a massive bill Thursday that, if passed, would eliminate the use of peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject jury candidates during the selection process.

Speaking through a family friend, Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, said she is pleased about the proposed changes and hopes the presence of Indigenous jurors will translate into more justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The prospect of something good coming out of her son’s death gives her hope for the future, Eleanore Sunchild said on behalf of Baptiste.

The bill includes other measures aimed at tackling court backlogs plaguing the criminal justice system, including by restricting the use of preliminary inquiries to cases where the offender is facing the possibility of a life sentence, such as for murder, kidnapping or aggravated sexual assault.

READ MORE: Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal in case of Cindy Gladue

The bill will also address a Liberal campaign promise to crack down on intimate partner violence, including by reversing the onus on bail for those previously convicted of violence against a current or former spouse, common-law partner or dating partner.

Intimate partner violence would also be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing; the bill would also make way for the possibility of higher maximum sentences for repeat offenders.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Wilson-Raybould with reviewing changes to the criminal justice system and the sentencing reforms the previous Conservative government brought in as part of its tough-on-crime agenda, including the impact on Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups.

That effort took on an increased sense of urgency in July 2016, when the Supreme Court imposed strict new limits on how long a case could take to make its way through the system.

More than 200 criminal cases across the country were tossed out due to unreasonable delays.

The bill would also make other changes aimed at tackling the backlog, including by allowing judges more discretion when it comes to what are called administration of justice offences, such as those involving breach of recognizance and others that do not involve violence or property damage.

This bill, however, does not address another major promised reform to address mandatory minimum sentences, which many advocates have argued also contribute to court delays.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

‘On the Cusp’ debuts at Victoria store front

Camosun Visual Arts students present new exhibit

Retired Gordon Head teacher not ready to ride into the sunset

86-year-old keeping active with marathon paddling trek and week-long cycling tour

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Taking the sting out of nourishing nettles

Linda Geggie For the Saanich News When you think of nettles you… Continue reading

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

Most Read