NDP considers abolishing so-called peremptory challenges in jury selection

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he is strongly considering whether the NDP should push to abolish the use of so-called peremptory challenges in the jury selection process.

Singh believes 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.

To break it down, this means allowing Crown and defence lawyers to exclude jurors without offering reasons, is at the centre of the controversy raging over the acquittal of Gerald Stanley.

These changes are being proposed following the acquittal of Stanley, a Saskatchewan farmer of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie, 22, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.

Singh went on to say that as a lawyer, he too has used peremptory challenges in jury selection in the past.

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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.”

Jury selection is a difficult process and in the future it will possibly mean that juries will have to reflect the population. In some areas of Canada that can well be a challenge for a variety of reasons. Will it all come down to race?

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