The federal government has introduced legislation aimed at overhauling the criminal justice system — including making good on a promise to change the way juries are selected.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tabled a massive bill today that also includes measures aimed at tackling court backlogs plaguing the criminal justice system that has seen more than 200 charges dismissed following a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2016 on court delays.
They include restricting the use of preliminary inquiries to cases where the offender is facing the possibility of a life sentence.
The bill would also eliminate the use of peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject jury candidates during the selection process.
A number of visibly Indigenous people were excluded from the jury that last month acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation.
Speaking through a family friend, Boushie’s mother Debbie Baptiste says she’s pleased about the proposed changes and hopes the presence of Indigenous jurors will translate into more justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
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 Canadian Press)