Verdict shrugged

On no other occasion that I can recall has a Prime Minister of Canada met with the family of a victim when the accused had recently been found not guilty by a jury. Yet there was Justin Trudeau in his Parliament Hill office today embracing and consoling members of the Colten Boushie family. Not only is this unheard of, it is unconscionable. It may even be unconstitutional.

Stephen Harper got into an imbroglio with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, but that was nothing compared to this latest intervention by an elected leader into the judicial system. To be sure, everyone knew what the trial outcome would be for Gerald Stanley when an all-white jury was picked. You’d think it would be impossible not to include a few indigenous people in that part of the world, but the defence used peremptory challenges and that’s how jury selection turned out.

It’s one thing for a government to set out to change the law about jury selection, if that’s what Trudeau plans to do, but to so openly contest a trial outcome will surely make any appeal unlikely. I cannot disagree with Trudeau’s heart on this issue, but where was his head? We all want the lives of Canada’s indigenous people improved. But this high profile performance art by the prime minister does not bring to an end even one of the dozens of boil water advisories on reserves. That’s where the crusade is needed. At home, not in court.


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