Justice minister defends saying Canada 'must do better' in wake of Boushie verdict

Geordon Omand,
THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA -- Jody Wilson-Raybould doubled down Tuesday on her controversial reaction to the Colten Boushie verdict, saying a federal justice minister should be responsive to Canadians who speak out and protest perceived injustices in the legal system.

Wilson-Raybould defended last week's comments on Twitter, which came after Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Boushie, 22, a member of Red Pheasant First Nation.

"As a country, we can and must do better," Wilson-Raybould tweeted, prompting charges from opposition MPs and legal experts alike that she was straying too far into the independent territory of Canada's judicial system.

It would be "deeply concerning" to have an attorney general who does not acknowledge the Canadians speaking out about a perceived injustice, she said Tuesday.

"We have elevated this discussion to a place where it needs to be, because we can always improve the justice system."

Earlier in the day, Wilson-Raybould met with the Boushie family and discussed various areas of improvement for the justice system, including jury selection, an ombudsperson for victims of crime and the need for compassion and support for victims.

She has said the government is considering changes to the way juries are selected after concerns were raised about the apparent all-white makeup of the jury in Stanley's trial.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with the Boushie family in the afternoon for what he described as a very good, very emotional meeting.

"They are very much focused on making sure we have improvements to our system to make sure that no family has to go through the kinds of things they went through," he said after the meeting.

"There is very much a desire to work together on the path of reconciliation on improving the system that is failing far too many Canadians."

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who also met with Boushie's relatives, said the civilian-led RCMP watchdog has launched an investigation after the family filed a complaint over the police's handling of the case.

"The family started the process, as well they should, and they've gone through the first part of it," Goodale said.

Boushie's family met Monday with the ministers of Indigenous relations and Indigenous services and said they are focused on building relationships.