Alberta is pushing the federal government for changes to create more representative juries, in the wake of the controversial acquittals of the killing of two Indigenous youth.
In Canada, the criminal justice system is regulated by the federal government, including the use of peremptory challenges in jury selection. But jury eligibility is under the responsibility of the provinces, under the Jury Act in Alberta.
The letter written by Richard Feehan, Alberta’s Minister of Indigenous Relations, contained a request for increased funding for the province to work alongside indigenous communities to help with engagement in the jury process. Mr. Feehan also called for the federal government to revise its process of peremptory challenges.
“Concerns in relation to the composition of juries must be taken seriously and dealt with expeditiously.” Mr. Feehan.
Mr. Feehan passionately asked the federal government to use former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, Frank Iacobucci’s 2013 recommendations as a guideline for addressing the current discriminatory jury selection process.
In the wake of the recent decisions the murders of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the federal Justice Minister, has said “[t]here is no place in this country for racism, discrimination, bias of any sort in the criminal justice system or otherwise” adding to statement of determinations to fix this problem.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.