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

Magic in the air at Nanaimo library on Harry Potter Day

VIRL’s Nanaimo North Library branch hosted activities Thursday

Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary presents NRGH with $550,000 donation

Second time auxiliary presents a cheque topping half a million dollars to hospital

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Easing overnight park camping bylaw is ‘bonkers’

Who is supposed to enforce the city’s list of restrictions, asks letter writer

Nanaimo’s 1 Port Drive could get a trial run as a temporary bus loop

Prideaux Street bus exchange expected to be relocated for six months this year

Downtown Nanaimo bridge to be closed to vehicle traffic this spring

Vehicles will be prohibited from driving on Bastion Street Bridge for six weeks

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Beefs & Bouquets, March 21

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

First Nations leader to try for NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, announces intentions

Folk singer’s globe-trotting taking him to Nanaimo

Lorkin O’Reilly explores the immigrant experience on new album, plays the Vault on Friday, March 22

Scientists disembark in Nanaimo after international expedition probes Pacific salmon

Canadian, American, Russian, Korean and Japanese scientists survey salmon in Gulf of Alaska

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: On climate, think about the children

Our son doesn’t understand that he’s been given a legacy of environmental crises, says letter writer

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Most Read