Six-in-ten say reforms are needed to ensure juries better
reflect the communities they come from
By ANGUS REID INSTITUTE
February 26, 2018 – The acquittal of Gerald Stanley – the white Saskatchewan farmer accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Cree man Colten Boushie in August 2016 – has prompted nationwide debate about how the Canadian justice system handles cases involving Indigenous people.
Near the centre of this powder keg is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has faced significant criticism for appearing to question the jury’s decision in the case and asserting that Canada must “do better” in the future.
Now, a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians divided on the jury’s “not guilty” verdict in the case, but considerably more likely to see Trudeau’s comments as inappropriate than appropriate, given the context.
Fewer than one-in-three Canadians (32%) say the Prime Minister was right to weigh in on the jury’s decision, while nearly half (46%) say doing so was inappropriate. The rest (22%) are uncertain.
More Key Findings:
- On the verdict itself, Canadians are roughly as likely to say the jury’s decision was “good and fair” (30% say this) as they are to say it was “flawed and wrong” (32%). The largest number – 38 per cent – are unsure
- Asked to choose between two statements on the jury-selection process – during which defence lawyers prevented any Indigenous-looking potential jurors from being selected – six-in-ten (59%) opt for “we should reform these rules to ensure juries reflect the whole community better”
- Regional differences are significant. Saskatchewan residents, especially, are overwhelmingly in agreement that the jury’s decision was fair, Trudeau’s comments inappropriate, and jury reform unnecessary
Link to the poll here: www.angusreid.org/boushie-verdict