Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday February 13, 2018
Conservatives accuse Trudeau of ‘political interference’ for comments on Stanley acquittal
The federal Conservatives are accusing Justin Trudeau of “political interference” after the prime minister responded to the acquittal of a white farmer in the death of a young Indigenous man by saying the criminal justice system has to “do better.”
Trudeau made the comments after a jury in Battleford, Sask., Friday found Gerald Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, a resident of the Red Pheasant First Nation.
“I’m not going to comment on the process that led to this point today, but I am going to say we have come to this point as a country far too many times,” Trudeau said in California, where he was wrapping up a four-day trip to the U.S. “I know Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike know that we have to do better.”
Trudeau’s comments appeared to reflect concerns expressed by hundreds of Indigenous people who took to different sites across Canada on Saturday to protest what they described as injustice and a lack of fairness within the court system.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, meanwhile, took to Twitter to express their support for Boushie’s family and assert the need for improvements.
“My thoughts are with the family of Colten Boushie tonight,” Wilson-Raybould wrote Friday. “I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better — I am committed to working every day to ensure justice for all Canadians.”
Many concerns have been raised about discrimination toward Indigenous People in the criminal justice system; retired Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci, for example, raised flags about a lack of Indigenous representation on juries in Ontario in 2013.
Iacobucci’s probe was launched after an inquest into the 2007 drowning death of a high school student in Thunder Bay, Ont., was stopped because of a lack of Indigenous people on the jury. (Source: Toronto Star)