I cannot possibly suggest the jurors in this case were racist. I don’t know any of them and I wasn’t in the courtroom.
But I do know they live in a white world, as do I, and we would all be incapable of knowledge of an Indigenous upbringing in this country, something that carries with it fears, despair, lack of opportunities and outright racism.
This happened because Canada’s justice system is broken.
At a time when we are trying to reach some kind of reconciliation with Canada's First Nations, this decision throws a spanner into the works. Jodie Wilson-Raybould did not mine words:
The reaction of Wilson-Raybould, an Indigenous justice minister, to a jury verdict was extraordinary and possibly without precedent.
My thoughts are with the family of Colton (sic) Boushie tonight,’’ she said via Twitter. “I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better — I am committed to working everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians.’’
The justice system simply has to change:
There is a simple way to do better, and a quick way to do better — eliminate the system of peremptory challenges, something that invites racism in the system and can be eliminated by a Criminal Code amendment introduced by Wilson-Raybould tomorrow.
Peremptory challenges allow the Crown or defence to reject potential jurors without giving reasons. In this case, the Boushie family says the Stanley defence team used its 14 peremptory challenges to reject any potential jurors who appeared Indigenous. It is often cited as a reason for Indigenous underrepresentation on juries.
“The under-representation of Indigenous jurors is an issue in several provinces and it is a reality I find concerning,’’ Wilson-Raybould said in a statement.
But she promised only “careful study’’ of ending peremptory challenges, something the United Kingdom did three decades ago.
Until the problem of underrepresentation of Indigenous Canadians on juries is fixed, outcomes similar to the Boushie decision are bound to occur.
Doing nothing to solve the problem is not an option.