Jury selection change preserved fairness of process, Supreme Court says

·1 min read

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says Parliament was entitled to abolish a long-standing jury selection procedure that some critics had denounced as discriminatory.

The newly released reasons shed light on the high court's decision from the bench last October that upheld the constitutionality of legislation scrapping so-called peremptory challenges.

Peremptory challenges allowed lawyers for either side to dismiss a certain number of prospective jurors without an explanation.

They were abolished as part of changes to the jury selection process ushered in by the federal Liberal government to make juries more representative following the controversial acquittal of Gerald Stanley in 2018.

Stanley was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, and there were no Indigenous jurors on the panel that heard his case.

In reasons for affirming the constitutionality of the legislative change, justices Michael Moldaver and Russell Brown say the selection regime continues to provide the independent and impartial jury that each accused is owed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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