Politicians should fix the justice system, but they shouldn't react to specific verdicts

There are certainly things that need to be fixed about Canada’s criminal justice system. And at the top of the list are issues of systemic bias and perceived unfairness that have left indigenous Canadians feeling like the process is stacked against them.

But politicians should use evidence, not emotion, to guide their decisions. And they should avoid rushing to judgement or reacting quickly to one specific case when there are enormous issues at stake. There’s a good argument to be made about eliminating peremptory challenges that allow lawyers to reject potential jurors without a reason. In the recent Colten Boushie trial, race certainly appeared to be a factor. But we shouldn’t forget that the challenges were created for a reason and that sometimes they work in favour of indigenous defendants and victims of crime as well.

Whatever steps they decide to take, the prime minister and the justice minister should resist the urge to comment on the outcomes of specific cases and then pretend their remarks were about broader issues. The justice system needs careful, thoughtful improvements, not grandstanding on Twitter.

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