August 20, 2018

Winnipeg
18° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Editorial

Stanley verdict puts system on trial

Jason Franson / The Canadian Press</p><p>Countrywide protests greeted Gerald Stanley’s acquittal in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.</p>

Jason Franson / The Canadian Press

Countrywide protests greeted Gerald Stanley’s acquittal in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/2/2018 (188 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The jury in the Gerald Stanley trial gave its verdict Friday. On the weekend, hundreds of protesters in cities across Canada responded with their own verdict, shouting that Canada’s justice system is guilty of systemic racism.

Fear and anger exploded in Battleford, Sask., and many other cities following the acquittal of Biggar-area farmer Gerald Stanley on a charge of second-degree murder for the killing of Colten Boushie, a member of the adjacent Red Pheasant Cree community. The 2016 incident grew into a national scandal because it crystallized ill feelings between Canada’s Indigenous people and settler people. Those ill feelings go back many generations and will take a long time to heal.

Colten Boushie and his friends, who had been drinking, drove their damaged car onto the Stanley farm looking for help to fix a flat tire. In the neighbourly tradition of the sparsely populated prairies, it is perfectly normal to ask a neighbour for help. Mr. Stanley, however, suspected they were up to no good and ordered them off his farm. In the ensuing confrontation, the gun he was holding discharged, killing Mr. Boushie.

The jury at his murder trial found Mr. Stanley not guilty, to the dismay of Mr. Boushie’s family, who thought he was obviously guilty of something. They wondered why the jury included no person of Indigenous appearance. It looked for all the world as though the white people’s justice system had assembled a jury of white people to protect the white accused and deny justice to the Cree victim and his family.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/2/2018 (188 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The jury in the Gerald Stanley trial gave its verdict Friday. On the weekend, hundreds of protesters in cities across Canada responded with their own verdict, shouting that Canada’s justice system is guilty of systemic racism.

Fear and anger exploded in Battleford, Sask., and many other cities following the acquittal of Biggar-area farmer Gerald Stanley on a charge of second-degree murder for the killing of Colten Boushie, a member of the adjacent Red Pheasant Cree community. The 2016 incident grew into a national scandal because it crystallized ill feelings between Canada’s Indigenous people and settler people. Those ill feelings go back many generations and will take a long time to heal.

Colten Boushie and his friends, who had been drinking, drove their damaged car onto the Stanley farm looking for help to fix a flat tire. In the neighbourly tradition of the sparsely populated prairies, it is perfectly normal to ask a neighbour for help. Mr. Stanley, however, suspected they were up to no good and ordered them off his farm. In the ensuing confrontation, the gun he was holding discharged, killing Mr. Boushie.

The jury at his murder trial found Mr. Stanley not guilty, to the dismay of Mr. Boushie’s family, who thought he was obviously guilty of something. They wondered why the jury included no person of Indigenous appearance. It looked for all the world as though the white people’s justice system had assembled a jury of white people to protect the white accused and deny justice to the Cree victim and his family.

But Canada is now struggling with something deeper than a faulty justice system. It is dealing with deep-seated mistrust between the descendants of European settlers and Indigenous people. Most of the time, that mistrust simmers quietly. In the Boushie case, it has exploded into the open.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission under Justice Murray Sinclair proposed steps toward a brighter future arising from the bitter experience of Indigenous people who were compelled to attend residential schools, where they were cut off from their families and ancestral languages, and many were abused. Some of his proposals were acted upon, others await action.

The national reaction to Friday’s Saskatchewan verdict has the feel of a flashpoint, as if the outrage at such a blatant example of injustice won’t fade away.

Although it’s unusual for politicians to offer opinions on jury verdicts, both federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott offered public statements asserting the need for improvements in the justice system.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed sympathy for Mr. Boushie’s family, saying, "I know Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike know that we have to do better."

He has that right. And, as the prime minister of a majority government, he also has the power to make changes. Reforms to criminal procedure might help restore public confidence in the criminal courts.

Why are Canada’s prisons overpopulated with Indigenous offenders? The Boushie case, like others before it, suggests one dismaying factor: Canada’s courts seem to acquit white accused and convict Indigenous people. Better assurance that juries have a more balanced makeup would probably help.

The words of compassion from the prime minister are appreciated by those who feel aggrieved. But many Canadians hope the federal government’s expressed concerns about the justice system will go beyond words.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.