Juries, Miscarriages of Justice and the Bill C-75 Reforms
Keywords:Gerald Stanley, Colten Boushie, jury, jury selection, racial bias, Indigenous, Bill C-75, peremptory challenge, mixed juries, challenge for cause, stand aside, substantive equality
Gerald Stanley’s use of five peremptory challenges to exclude all visibly Indigenous people from the jury that acquitted him of murder and manslaughter in the killing of a 22-year-old Cree man, Colten Boushie, was not the only flaw in jury selection that requires reform. This article suggests that the R v Stanley case is part of a long line of miscarriages of justice involving Indigenous people with no Indigenous representation on the jury. It argues that Bill C-75, enacted in 2019, was justified in abolishing peremptory challenges and that this reform does not violate the Charter. Unfortunately, however, Bill C-75 pursued only superficial reforms with respect to juror qualifications, and challenges for causes, and failed to provide for substantive equality challenges to panels of prospective jurors. Comprehensive jury reform is still necessary, including provincial reforms with respect to jury lists, local juries and volunteer jurors. Thought should also be given to reviving and adapting mixed juries that would require equal numbers of Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people in cases involving Indigenous people.