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

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Decision on Burns Lake’s workforce camp “pending very soon”: Coastal GasLink

Meetings to discuss new camp location postponed due to wildfire situation

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read