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Trudeau Government “Fix” For Canada’s Jury Selection Process Could Make Things Worse


#LSN_Opinion

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA  --   February 15, 2018   (LSN)  “Fixing” a process that isn’t broken on the basis of temporary emotion and a desire to “do something” is incredibly dangerous and will further erode the already-crumbling judicial independence in our nation.

The Trudeau government is moving fast to “fix” the justice system in the wake of the Gerald Stanley verdict – particularly the jury selection process.

As reported by the Toronto Star, “The Liberal government will propose Criminal Code changes next month to reform jury selection rules, bail processes and other justice measures that it says have long led to unfair treatment of Indigenous people in Canada’s legal system.”

Also, “Wilson-Raybould signalled changes to jury selection rules, including the elimination of what are called “peremptory challenges,” which allow prosecutors and defence lawyers to object to a certain number of potential jurors — depending on the type of crime — without specifying any reason.”

This is based on the perception – which spread surprisingly fast – that the jury was somehow biased, or that a jury with a different racial makeup would have reached a different verdict.

However, those perceptions are not based on any facts, and the idea that the selection process is “broken” has not been backed up by any facts either.

This was shown in a recent report by Candice Malcolm in the Toronto Sun, key excerpts of which are below

“Almost half of the prospective jurors in the Colten Boushie case were Aboriginal persons, according to one member of the jury pool. However, the reason there were no Aboriginal Canadians on the jury in this controversial case is because so many deliberately opted out of the process. Other First Nations prospective jurors, meanwhile, were openly and outwardly biased during the selection process, according to one prospective juror who spoke to the Sun.”

The prospective juror says more than half of the 100 or so prospective Aboriginal jurors were granted exemptions, and were then able to head home, leaving about 45 Aboriginal prospective jurors.

There were also some very disturbing details revealed by the prospective juror:

“As the prospective jury describes, some of the remaining 45 or so were vocal in expressing their bias and signalling to everyone in the room they were unfit to serve on the jury. “You could audibly hear some of them talking amongst themselves, discussing how they were going to hang Stanley, or they were going to make sure he gets hung, or that if they don’t get the results they want, that they were going to handle it themselves,” the person said of the Aboriginal people who remained. This account comes from one individual who spoke with the Sun, and has not yet been corroborated by other witnesses.”

This is exactly why our justice system gives the defence the right to challenge and reject jurors. What Trudeau seems to have forgotten – or is purposely ignoring – is that our system starts with a presumption of innocence, and is not designed to make politically-motivated convictions.

As we can see, while no system is perfect, it seems our jury selection process is working as it is intended too.

Imagine if the system is changed and a similar situation happens, except the defence can’t challenge jurors who may be massively biased. People would be convicted even if that conviction is based on anger and bias, instead of facts.

That would destroy any remaining credibility our justice system has, and turn it into an injustice system. By acting based on temporary emotion and virtue-signalling, the Trudeau government is putting our entire system of justice in serious peril.

Read the full Toronto Sun report

 

Spencer Fernando
Spencer Fernando  Lake Superior News

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.