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

Two from Delta killed in two-vehicle crash near Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Semiahmoo Rock alum to represent Canada at World Junior Lacrosse Championship

Jacob Dunbar plays for Port Coquitlam Saints of BCJALL

Surrey celebrates multiculturalism with annual Fusion Festival

The two-day festival returns to Holland Park

RCMP investigate two shootings in Surrey

Incidents happened in Whalley, Newton

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

Most Read