The Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers is criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for suggesting a jury was wrong to acquit a Saskatchewan farmer of second degree murder. The letter was obtained by The Globe and Mail and printed Tuesday.
After a jury decided that Gerald Stanley was not guilty in the death of Cree Native Colten Boushie, Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould both questioned the decision and suggested it demonstrated systemic racism against Aboriginals.
The lawyers group says their comments were “unprecedented, inappropriate and quite frankly dangerous.” The council is recommending that both Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould apologize to the members of the jury.
In August 2016, Stanley shot Boushie after the 22-year-old Native and his friends arrived uninvited on Stanley’s farm. After the group tried to start an ATV, Stanley fired two bullets into the air before the gun discharged a third time — an accident, Stanley maintained.
“We are shocked at the initial comments made after the verdict in the Stanley case, ‘we can do better,'” the letter states. “There can be no argument that this was and is interpreted by many in this country, as at least criticism of the verdict, perhaps even disappointment.”
Following the release of the jury’s decision, Trudeau quickly took to Twitter to express his disbelief, saying, “I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow the family is feeling tonight. Sending love to them from the U.S.”
Trudeau later reiterated that Tweet by commenting at a news conference, “Indigenous people across this country are angry, they’re heartbroken, and I know Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike know that we have to do better.”