Geoff Currier: Blaming race for the Gerald Stanley verdict is an oversimplification

Gerald Stanley enters the Court of Queen's Bench for the fifth day of his trial in Battleford, Sask., Feb. 5, 2018. Liam Richards/CP

In a world in which anyone can claim victimhood and which is divided into camps of the oppressors and the oppressed, it is a small step to disputing each court decision as manifestly unjust.

That’s been the case with the acquittal on second degree murder charges of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, who killed Colten Boushie. The jury ruled in the case that the killing was accidental, which is not sitting well with many across Canada, none of whom sat in the courtroom or heard the evidence.

WATCH BELOW: Prime Minister Trudeau says Indigneous Canadians are angry and heartbroken following Stanley verdict 

Click to play video: '‘Indigenous people are angry, heartbroken’: Trudeau on Boushie verdict' ‘Indigenous people are angry, heartbroken’: Trudeau on Boushie verdict
‘Indigenous people are angry, heartbroken’: Trudeau on Boushie verdict – Feb 10, 2018

Even our Prime Minister weighed in, foolishly and inappropriately. His words were reminiscent of those by former U.S. president Barack Obama after the killing by a white police officer of a black youth named Michael Brown. A 2015 report by the U.S. Justice Department later sided with the officer’s version of events.

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READ MORE: Trudeau’s comments on Boushie case may have ‘tainted’ a potential appeal process: lawyer

As for the Boushie matter, the generalities of the case go something like this. Boushie and a few friends, who were intoxicated, were trying to steal at least one of Stanley’s vehicles and he confronted them with a handgun. The gun was discharged and struck Boushie in the head, killing him. Stanley claimed from start to finish that the gun discharged by mistake and all he wanted to do was to scare the people off his property. He had already fired a couple shots into the air.

The trial result has angered Boushie’s family, which is natural enough. But from the beginning, this episode was characterized as a racially charged incident: White man with a gun against a few defenceless Indigenous men. This over-simplification gets us back to the flawed concept of the oppressors and the oppressed. Gerald Stanley likely did what most Canadians would do if they feel their family and property are under threat and they are outnumbered. You use whatever means are at your disposal to keep them safe. Skin colour doesn’t much matter if you have five men on your land trying to steal your vehicles and you are concerned for the safety of your wife and children.

READ MORE: ‘Even though people say it wasn’t about race, it was’: Colten Boushie’s mother

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What the Prime Minister, our Justice Minister, the Boushie family, the Indigenous political establishment and so many others are missing is that our judicial system is based on the principle of intentions, not outcomes. That is why we have categories for the taking of a life. We have first degree murder, second degree murder and manslaughter, and each has its own specifics.

Stanley was charged with second degree murder. This means that the Crown has a responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stanley intended to kill Bushie. The jury decided that the Crown failed to do that. The implication that the jury decided the case based on race is the persistent narrative.

READ MORE: Colten Boushie verdict: Door open to eliminating peremptory challenges, justice minister suggests

Only one person on the planet knows for certain what Gerald Stanley intended to do, and that’s Stanley himself. The justice system is required to ignore ethnicity in a case like this. Unfortunately, like our friends to the south, Canadians no longer seem capable of removing race from a court case that bodes ill for all of us.

Geoff Currier is host of the Geoff Currier show on Global News 680 CJOB in Winnipeg. 

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