May 26, 2018

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Stefanson offers sympathy, no comment on Boushie verdict

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Justice Minister Heather Stefanson won't comment on what federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday on social media about the acquittal of Colten Boushie's killer.</p>

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Justice Minister Heather Stefanson won't comment on what federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday on social media about the acquittal of Colten Boushie's killer.

Canada's minister of justice has said changes to the system need to be made in the wake of the acquittal of a white farmer in the death of a young Indigenous man, but her Manitoba counterpart isn't wading into the issue.

Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson, while expressing sympathy about the 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie on a Saskatchewan farm, said she will not be commenting on what Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday on social media.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boushie family and their friends," Stefanson said Monday after attending a groundbreaking ceremony at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg. "It's always difficult and tragic with a loss in a family and in a community, so our hearts go out to the family and the friends in the community."

When asked specifically about her thoughts on Wilson-Raybould's statements, Stefanson added: "I will say though, as the attorney general and minister of justice of Manitoba, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on this... Again, our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to the community at this time.

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Canada's minister of justice has said changes to the system need to be made in the wake of the acquittal of a white farmer in the death of a young Indigenous man, but her Manitoba counterpart isn't wading into the issue.

Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson, while expressing sympathy about the 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie on a Saskatchewan farm, said she will not be commenting on what Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday on social media.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boushie family and their friends," Stefanson said Monday after attending a groundbreaking ceremony at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg. "It's always difficult and tragic with a loss in a family and in a community, so our hearts go out to the family and the friends in the community."

When asked specifically about her thoughts on Wilson-Raybould's statements, Stefanson added: "I will say though, as the attorney general and minister of justice of Manitoba, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on this... Again, our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to the community at this time.

"I will not make a comment on this."

On Friday, the federal justice minister posted on Twitter: "My thoughts are with the family of Colten Boushie tonight... 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."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the weekend that, while he would not comment on "the process that led to this point today," he would say, "We have come to this point as a country far too many times.

"I know Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike know that we have to do better."

Boushie's family is in Ottawa and is expected to meet Tuesday with Wilson-Raybould.

Last week, a jury in Battleford, Sask., found Gerald Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of Boushie.

The jury was told Boushie and four others drove an SUV onto Stanley's farm on Aug. 9, 2016, and the farmer and his son heard one of their all-terrain vehicles start. Shortly after, the SUV collided with another vehicle on the property.

Stanley said he fired two warning shots in the air before the pistol he had retrieved from one of the farm buidlings "just went off" and a bullet hit Boushie in the head while the farmer was reaching for the keys to the SUV.

The verdict sparked protests across the country, including Winnipeg, where on Saturday hundreds of people filled the Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks, and on Sunday a small group of protesters briefly closed Portage and Main.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Kevin Rollason.

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