‘Emotions are raw’ after Gerald Stanley verdict: Sask. premier
Amid racist remarks and calls for sweeping changes to the judicial system, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called for an ongoing dialogue in the aftermath of the acquittal of Gerald Stanley.
The Biggar, Sask.-area rancher was found not guilty of second-degree murder and not guilty of manslaughter related to the August 2016 shooting of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.
“At the moment, in our province, emotions are raw,” Moe said.
In the wake of the shooting, vitriolic, racist remarks polluted social media. Since the jury’s verdict in Battleford, tensions haven’t subsided.
“We won’t be commenting on the Boushie case, specifically. However, that doesn’t preclude us … from having a dialogue as we move forward,” Moe said.
For a few hours, the premier met with Boushie’s relatives following the verdict, along with Saskatchewan’s Indigenous leadership.
He also welcomed further discussions about racism, crime, enforcement and root causes, but provincial officials wouldn’t commit to any changes to the justice system.
“It’s too soon to have any discussion. We’re only days afterwards,” Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said.
“We haven’t had any kind of an assessment from the Crown or anything, so we wouldn’t comment on any steps further.”
The Boushie family is seeking an appeal and an investigation into what they consider a mishandling of the case from the moment the man from the Red Pheasant First Nation was shot.
“Obviously, a judicial inquiry and royal commission needs to happen as well. And I think we need to have a serious conversation about race in this province,” said David Pratt, vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
Immediately after jury selection, family members questioned how defence lawyers were allowed to use peremptory challenges to reject visibly Indigenous potential jurors.
Morgan stated the provincial government is open to discussing changes to jury selection process, but not in the context of the Stanley case.
“But it’s a worthwhile conversation to have,” he said.
Another option would be to commit more money for jurors who have to travel to attend jury duty.
“The comments that people are making that they want to see more Indigenous people involved in the system is a fair comment,” Morgan said.
Debbie Baptiste (Boushie’s mother), Jade Tootoosis (Boushie’s cousin) and Alvin Baptiste (Boushie’s uncle) were in Ottawa Monday to meet with federal ministers about their concerns.
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