OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he is considering whether his party should push to abolish the use of so-called peremptory challenges in the jury selection process.
The practice, which allows Crown and defence lawyers to exclude jurors without offering reasons, is at the centre of the controversy raging over the acquittal of Gerald Stanley.
Stanley, a Saskatchewan farmer, was acquitted last week of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie, 22, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.
Singh says peremptory challenges can result in a jury that doesn’t accurately reflect the entire community, and that it’s time to talk about whether they should be allowed at all.
He made the comments as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to meet Boushie’s grieving family members, who are in Ottawa to talk about what they consider a travesty of justice.
A criminal defence lawyer before entering politics, Singh says he used peremptory challenges in jury selection when he was in practice.
“I’ve looked at this and I’m considering whether we should take a position on abolishing peremptory challenges,” he told a news conference.
“I haven’t made that decision yet, but it’s definitely a discussion we need to have.”
Such a discussion, Singh continued, “creates an opportunity to talk about how do we make a jury that truly reflective of the people, that increases confidence in our justice system, that gives us results that we can have faith in.”