It’s a dangerous move for the Prime Minister and Justice Minister to intervene and make comments on a case that is still before the courts.
The ruling in the Gerald Stanley case, in which he was found not guilty in the death of Colten Boushie, has divided the country.
Unfortunately, instead of seeking to bring the country together, or refraining from interfering in what is still an ongoing judicial matter (because of potential appeals), Justin Trudeau and some of his ministers have inserted themselves into the situation, in what is a very dangerous move.
While the death of Colten Boushie is tragic, it appears that the Trudeau government has put emotion ahead of the importance of protecting judicial independence – one of the cornerstones of our freedom as Canadians.
Here’s what Justin Trudeau said both on camera and on Twitter:
Just spoke with @Puglaas. I can't imagine the grief and sorrow the Boushie family is feeling tonight. Sending love to them from the US.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 10, 2018
Some have pointed out that while expressing his sympathies for the Boushie family is entirely appropriate, Trudeau didn’t express any feelings for Gerald Stanley’s family in this situation – who, though they didn’t lose a family member – have also been through a difficult time in a situation they certainly didn’t ask for.
Other ministers also commented:
Devastating news tonight for the family & friends of #ColtenBoushie. My thoughts & prayers are with you in your time of grief & pain. We all have more to do to improve justice & fairness for Indigenous Canadians.
— Jane Philpott (@janephilpott) February 10, 2018
— Carolyn Bennett (@Carolyn_Bennett) February 10, 2018
However, the more serious comment – and potential problem – was made by Justice Minister Jody-Wilson Raybould:
Thank you PM @JustinTrudeau. My thoughts are with the family of Colton 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 everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians. https://t.co/HvjV0bofrQ
— Jody Wilson-Raybould (@Puglaas) February 10, 2018
There are two big problems with Wilson-Raybould commenting on this issue in this way:
First, the case is still before the courts, as the government could appeal the verdict. By weighing in on the verdict, Wilson-Raybould casts doubt on whether any appeal could be heard fairly, as she is the top justice official in the country.
Second, she casts doubt on the entire justice system, and even threatens judicial independence. After all, by saying the system needs to “do better,” she is really saying that the jury was wrong to find Gerald Stanley not guilty, and she is saying that she – and by extension the power of the entire federal government – would have liked to see a guilty verdict.
This is very dangerous, as it raises the serious possibility that the government is seeking to make the system “better,” by skewing it to their own personal and political sense of what rulings should be made, and who should, and shouldn’t be found guilty.
The hypocrisy here is massive, as I pointed out on Twitter:
This is an issue bigger than whether people agree or disagree with the Gerald Stanley verdict. If politicians decide to intervene on every verdict they disagree with, judicial independence will be destroyed, and a cornerstone of our democracy will be lost.
Both Andrew Scheer, and Peter MacKay, have pointed out this is a big concern, as noted in a recent report.
‘”Inappropriate” was the word former justice minister Peter MacKay used to describe the posts. “It undermines the system of justice, quite frankly, to have politicians weigh in,” he said, adding the case could still be appealed, so they are technically commenting on a case currently before the courts. Unwarranted skepticism of a properly conducted trial will set a dangerous precedent, MacKay concluded.”
“Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called Boushie’s death “tragic,” but said the independent judicial process must run its course without political intervention. “It’s appropriate to show concern and support… for the family of the victim, but I think it is important that we remember that politicians don’t decide these types of things,” Scheer told reporters in Halifax. He also said that the situation warranted a discussion about challenges faced by young First Nations people.”
With the Trudeau government already moving to weaken free speech and “regulate” social media, our country is heading down a very dangerous road if judicial independence is weakened.
Photo – YouTube