An Unfathomable Darkness — The Gerald Stanley Verdict

“There is a darkness that exists in this country and I believe we are going to have to feel our way out of it.” — Chris Murphy, lawyer for the Boushie family

The verdict that found Gerald Stanley not guilty of any crime, not even manslaughter, in the shooting death of Colten Boushie leaves me stunned and mystified.

colten-boushie-gerald-stanley-side-by-side

Mr Boushie and Mr Stanley

I don’t have the requisite knowledge or experience in criminal law to make insightful comments about the trial, nevertheless in anticipation of those who’ve sprung to Mr Stanley’s defence by arguing Mr Boushie was the author of his own misfortune, I would like to share some facts which illustrate how deeply rooted this “darkness” is and how difficult it will be to “feel our way out.”

(NOTE: this post relies heavily on an article by Doug Beazley, published in The National)*

Colonial law in the 21st centuryThere are 615 First Nations in Canada.  They speak more than 50 distinct languages.  More than 1.3 million Canadians identify as having FN heritage.

The law governing the Crown/FN relationship is the Indian Act.  It is 141 years old and contrary to popular belief was not intended to shower FNs with wealth but to annihilate their culture.

Doug Beazley says the Act is “rooted in a 19th-century view of the inherent superiority of Western civilization”.

This bias is reflected in its purpose:  containment and transformation.  The Act broke down FN governance, replacing it with a fiduciary relationship with the Crown.  It set up the reserve band system which allowed the Crown to control the movement, economic activity, and legal rights of Indigenous Canadians while residential schools were established to “kill the Indian in the child”.

Unlike other levels of government where those who govern are accountable to those who elected them, the Indian Act created a “federal municipality” where a “chief’s political constituency is the federal minister and the federal government, not the people living in the community”.   The federal minister has tremendous power, including the right “to void the results of band elections and fire chiefs and council members for cause.”

Given this governance structure, it’s not surprising that members of FNs may feel powerless to address issues facing their community.

Beazley describes the Act as “a weird atavism of 19th century legal thinking, surviving into the 21st.”

He’s right, so why hasn’t it been changed or scrapped all together?

Change? Scrap?     

Policy makers have been trying to do something with the Act for decades.

Some argue for an incremental approach, fearing that reforming or repealing the Act at one go would be too disruptive because it’s become entrenched in “the fabric of First Nations over seven generations”.

Others disagree, arguing that piecemeal changes to the Act undermine Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In 1969 Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government made the first (and last) attempt to scrap the Indian Act.  He wanted to abolish the Act and treaties and incorporate FNs under provincial jurisdiction.  Indigenous Canadians soundly rejected this proposal, calling it an attack on their rights and an attempt to fast track assimilation.

The federal government has been tinkering with the Act ever since; the most recent effort being that of Justin Trudeau’s government which wants to reshape the Crown’s relationship with Indigenous Canadians by:

  • Setting up a ministerial working group to examine “de-colonizing” Canadian law
  • Reviewing funding arrangements
  • Developing principles to guide the government’s relationship with Indigenous Canadians, including recognition of an inherent right of self-governance, and
  • Dividing Indigenous and Northern Affairs into two departments, one responsible for service delivery in non-self-governing Indigenous communities and the other responsible for administering the Indian Act

Time will tell whether this effort is more successful than past attempts.

Just fix it all ready

The path to transferring federal power to First Nations is complex and difficult.

Former Conservative senator Lynn Beyak was wrong when she suggested all we needed was for each Indigenous man, woman, and child to take a payout and trade their status cards for Canadian citizenship (apparently not realizing they’re Canadian citizens already).

Anyone suggesting Colten Boushie, a 22 year old man from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation (a band with 1,893 registered members, 608 of whom live on the reserve) could have avoided being killed by Gerald Stanley if he just got his act together, needs to remember the 141 year history and impact of the Indian Act. 

*****

We have a long way to go to find our way out of the darkness.  Let’s start by being honest about how we got here.

*“Decolonizing The Indian Act” by Doug Breazley, published in The National, Winter 2017

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62 Responses to An Unfathomable Darkness — The Gerald Stanley Verdict

  1. ed henderson says:

    Well Susan, if an aboriginal person ever attacks you or your’s just step back and let em at it. As for me, anyone who attacks me or mine or my neighbors or a stranger walking down the street will feel my wrath if I catch them.

    • Val Jobson says:

      So if someone shot one of yours in the back of the head you would want a court of justice to punish the killer?

    • Ed, Boushie was not attacking anyone when he was shot dead in the driver’s seat, he was trying to get away. It’s against the law to steal another person’s property, however section 35 of the Criminal Code says the response of someone protecting their property has to be “reasonable in the circumstance.” The judge said Stanley was acting lawfully when he fired two warning shots, the question for the jury was whether Stanley was acting lawfully when the bullet from Stanley’s gun killed Boushie.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Attempting to run down someone with a vehicle is an attack, by any standard; the vehicle had allegedly already made an attempt at running down Stanley’s son.

        And when Stanley reached in to turn off the SUV’s ignition he claimed he did so because he was afraid his wife was pinned under the truck, not because he thought Mr.Boushie was trying to get away.

      • GoinFawr yes Stanley said he was afraid his wife was under the truck, no they didn’t try to run down Stanley’s son. Here’s the news report of the son’s testimony: “Sheldon told the jury a grey SUV was driven onto the Stanley farm and that someone from the SUV attempted to steal a quad. Sheldon said he and his father ran to the SUV and Sheldon hit the SUV’s windshield with a hammer. He said the SUV was then driven into a parked vehicle. Sheldon said two people got out and ran away and he went into the house to get his truck keys. He heard three gunshots and then saw his father holding a handgun in one hand and a magazine in the other, he said. Sheldon testified that his father said the gun “just went off.” Here’s the link: http://thestarphoenix.com/news/crime/gerald-stanley-trial-a-day-by-day-recap

  2. Bob Raynard says:

    There was an interesting parallel/mirror image situation in the late 90s, Does any remember Weibo Ludwig and Karmin Willis?

    Weibo Ludwig was a landowner in the Peace Country. He became an adamant opponent to the oil and gas industry when (he believed) the multiple sour gas plants in the area started causing serious health issues for both his family and his livestock. Ludwig was blamed for multiple acts of eco-terrorism/vandalism against the oil industry, and convicted of several of them. As such, he was certainly an oddity in his community.

    One night around, 4 AM, a bunch of the local teenagers, fresh from a bush party, drove onto Ludwig’s property. According to Ludwig they were drunk and drove recklessly close to a tent where some of the children were sleeping. A shot was fired at the truck and Karmin Willis, a popular 16 year old girl, was killed. No charges were ever laid because it could not be determined who fired the shot.

    The parallels between this and Boushie/Stanley are obvious. The mirror image is that in the case of Ludwig/Willis popular kids were doing the trespassing on the property of the local oddball, whereas in the Boushie/Stanley case it was a local ‘good guy’ getting invaded, and I’m sure there are lots of newspapers comments to describe the invader.

    My point is that the situations are similar enough that I think they deserve the same reaction from the chattering classes, but somehow I don’t think that will be the case.

    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/ludwig-farm-shooting/

    • jerrymacgp says:

      I live in Grande Praire, and the Ludwig clan lived in a sort of informal commune, Trickle Creek, outside Hythe, about 45 minutes west of the city, not far from the B.C. border. The entire clan became pariahs in the area, and local businesses would refuse to do business with them. It still angers many residents of this part of the province why nobody from the commune was ever charged in the shooting, not even for obstruction of justice, since the police could make no headway in determining who was the shooter.

      • Bob Raynard says:

        Right. That is why I wonder how they are looking at the shooting in Saskatchewan. In order for there not to be a double standard, those same angry residents should be outraged by Friday’s verdict.

      • Jerry, one has to wonder about the quality of the police force, in the Ludwig case they said it was impossible to determine who the shooter was because the Ludwig clan was so tightly knit. In this case the RCMP refused to call in blood spatter experts who might have shed some light on how the gun went “boom”, also they didn’t protect the SUV from rain which washed the blood away from the SUV door and the ground, I guess everyone should be grateful they covered Bushie’s body with a tarp to protect it from the rain (it lay on the ground for a day). Can you imagine that happening to your child.

    • As you said Bob, the similarities in these two cases are remarkable. According to the link the drunk and disorderly teenagers were pulling away from the property when Willis was shot, Ludwig implied it was the girl’s fault because she shouldn’t have been out with a bunch of wild teenagers, and said whoever fired the fatal shot would have been exonerated because he acted in self defence. In Ludwig’s case the community wanted blood, here they sprang to Stanley’s defence. Why?

  3. Val Jobson says:

    The Indian Act effectively made Indians into wards of the government, but unlike other wards they did not cease to be wards when they reached the age of 21 or 18. So I think it was basic racism, assuming that grown people could not handle making their own choices.

    But the early Indian Act also had many provisions for protecting reserve lands. I think the legislators had more experience in writing laws about land issues than about people who were wards of government.

    To me the proof that some of the Act’s land provisions were effective is that in the early 1900s the government amended the Act to make it easier to get land surrenders, so corrupt politicians and Indian Affairs officials could profit by buying and selling reserve lands, the source of many specific land claims in our time.

    This is a roundabout way of saying that I think many First Nations do not want to lose their remaining reserve lands, and just dumping the whole Indian Act might remove protection from the reserves.

    So dismantling the Act would need a lot of disentangling so the good effects of part of the Act were not lost.

    • Val many people agree with you. They say it’s better to deal with the Indian Act on a case by case basis. The feds enacted legislation that allows individual FNs to remove themselves from parts of the Act. For example, the First Nations Land Management Act allows individual FNs draft their own land codes and deal with land use and environmental protection without getting permission from the feds. This isn’t self government, but it’s a start.

  4. I have been speechless for the past few days or so regarding this matter – I mean, really – a travesty of justice – I can most certainly see grounds for appeal. My hope – like other friends –is that people who care will take a moment or two to write to our Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould jody.wilson-raybould@parl.gc.ca and request that she use her position to ensure the Crown appeals. There are plenty of reasons to do so; as there are grounds for an overhaul of our justice system. Good grief … | LCA

  5. PS. I just signed the petition, “Supreme Court of Canada: Justice For Colten Boushie.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:
    https://www.change.org/p/supreme-court-of-canada-justice-for-colten-boushie?utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_signer_receipt&utm_campaign=triggered&share_context=signature_receipt&recruiter=44244440 | Thanks, LCA

  6. Paul Harmon says:

    There has always been a superior colonial approach to the Native Americans. There were nation-to-nation treaties made with the different bands. Others they didn’t bother with. Instead of treating ‘the nations’ with respect and honor the obligations agreed to, Canada became paternalistic. Then the Indian Act was created to control every aspect of their lives. All justified with the rationalization the Indians were inferior. After 150+ years that attitude is still alive and well.

  7. Jane Walker says:

    Thank you, Susan! A sad day when we have been forced to be realistic and see the ‘dark side’ of our society. An opportunity for our society to force openness, truth and transparency regarding this racism and the dangers of not objecting to ethnic cleansing .. in any century.
    Disturbing now but worse if we let it pass without consequence!
    Thanks again, Susan; this is an uncomfortable pew!

  8. James Carter says:

    Hope you don’t mind but I posted it on my Twitter account. Thought I should let you know.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  9. lorraine sabin says:

    This tragedy must change everything now. A young man with all his life ahead.

    • Lorraine, it’s certainly brought into focus a problem we have in the justice system. A lawyer writing in the Globe & Mail said there was nothing wrong with a jury believing Stanley; the real problem was the fact the jury had absolutely no Indigenous members. This undermined the integrity of the verdict because the jury did not represent the community. He said the answer would be to (1) limit the number of peremptory challenges if it becomes clear they’re creating an inappropriately homogeneous jury or (2) expand the jury pool so the use of peremptory challenges won’t compromise its diversity.

  10. jerrymacgp says:

    Mississippi, say about 1960: a black youth is fatally shot on the land of a white farmer. An all-white jury acquits the farmer of all charges. Miscarriage of justice, you say? Racist courts, you say? Of course. Bring in the FBI.

    And so, here we have a very similar situation, including the all-white jury, and a member of a disrespected racial minority as the victim. The parallels are stark in their implications.

  11. Harce says:

    What’s most offensive is that our so called justice minister comments on this as if there was something wrong with the verdict. The case was tried and he was found not guilty. What happened to an independent judiciary?

    • Harce, you raise an important point. The PM and the justice minister may well feel the family’s pain and think we can do better, but they’re politicians and have an obligation to maintain our democratic system, including the role of courts, even when they disagree with the court’s ruling. One legal publication says it’s OK for politicians to say “I’ll abide by the court’s decision but that doesn’t mean I have to like it”. So I guess the issue is: did the PM and justice minister’s comments indicate they didn’t like the court’s decision but they’d abide by it, or did they go farther than that? Here’s the link: http://provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews/enews-09-05-2017

  12. GoinFawr says:

    The “Indian Act” is woefully outdated, no doubt.

    But it is unrelated to the fact that ripping around uninvited and impaired on someone else’s property attempting robbery while threatening the residents with being crushed by a 2000kg SUV (not to mention carrying/using a firearm as bludgeon to damage property) seems like behavior that would put those being menaced on the defensive, and prompt them to take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect themselves from injury and/or death.

    Or is that not what happened, as supported by the evidence presented in court?

    Maybe we should ask Wiebo Ludwig’s daughters how it feels to have a truck, likely operated by and impaired driver, tearing around loved ones with little regard for their safety, they might be able to offer a some experience-based perspective?

    I can only speak for myself, but if I was looking to get a tire repaired I would be ‘hat in hand’ as I approached the folk I was going to ask for help… I would be so polite that no one could mistake me for anything other than a Canadian.

    • GoinFawr the best outline of the testimony I’ve found to date appears in the Star Phoenix. It says the Crown said Stanley’s son Sheldon would testify he was building a fence on his father’s property when a grey SUV drove into the yard and stopped beside a quad, someone from the SUV tried to start the quad, Sheldon ran toward the SUV and hit the windshield with a hammer. Then Sheldon ran into the house to get his car keys, hoping to chase after the SUV. While Sheldon was inside, Sheldon heard two gunshots and, then a third one. When he got out of the house he saw his father with a gun in his hand, then he looked in the car and saw Boushie slumped over at the steering wheel. Stanley did not say he fired at the people in the SUV in order to defend himself or his family, all Stanley said was he tried to take the key out of the ignition because he thought the SUV had run over his wife and boom, the gun went off. Here’s the link: http://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/gerald-stanley-trial-mother-of-shooting-victim-wants-justice-for-colten

      • GoinFawr says:

        Indeed, Mr.Stanley claims he did not fire at anyone, even in self defense.

        It sounds like the SUV was being used as a threat, a weapon, to me.

        Folk make much of the fact that the experts found the gun to be perfectly functioning, but there is evidence indicating that ‘hang fire’ can be an (esp. old) ammunition problem , and it is my understanding that the casing of the bullet that killed Mr.Boushie had an abnormal ‘bulge’, just like it might if it had misfired.

        All this said: this is a tragedy, and no error, but not actually being at the court I have to trust that the jurors saw all the evidence and came to the best conclusion it offered,

        or there is no point in having a legal system at all.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I thought the PM was a bit out of line in his comments. When the prime minister doubts the system what are we supposed to think?
        I agree with GF that we have to trust the jury but knowing the level of anti-native sentiment that is so prevalent and what we have done in the last century I would not put my hands in the fire. It is a complex issue.
        When we had the Ludwig case I thought it was so biased against his family when we knew from other reports that it was true that there were issues with methane release. It is still common practice. The oil companies fought tooth and nail against him in a time where most Albertans did not care about Ludwig’s predicament. The man was different but how many of us are?
        As far as the details I do not know much so I excuse myself from a comment.
        It just seems that every time there is a serious case with natives and police that death is always the outcome. Makes me really wonder.

      • Ken Larsen says:

        I have no real idea of what happened on the Stanley farm, but I do know that tampering with the jury system as our PM and Justice Minister have suggested is stepping into some very deep water.

        In Britain capital punishment was effectively ended when juries refused to convict for capital crimes. In Canada we now have abortion rights for women because juries (at least three of them from Quebec) refused to convict Dr. Morgentaler for providing the service. So we must have some faith in the jury system to produce justice.

        I would also point out that only the jury in that Saskatchewan court room, the judge, and those with access to the transcripts of the trail have complete information on the evidence presented by the Crown and Defense at the trial proceedings.

        Unfortunately because of the less than nuanced comments made by the PM and his Justice Minister, I do not see how there could a fair re-trial of Mr. Stanley on another charge.

        The death of this young man, for whatever reason, is a tragedy made worse by the emotional mob mentality which our PM and his Justice Minister have done nothing to dampen down.

        Many students of the law may remember the very wise aphorism: “hard cases make for bad laws” and this may well apply here. In the end the Court’s verdict has to be respected.

      • Ken, the issue about the impact of comments made by the PM and members of his cabinet is an interesting one. I just heard an interview with David Butt, a Toronto lawyer with an LLM from Harvard, who said it’s legitimate for politicians to make a political response in cases like this which touch “a raw nerve across the country” and their comments “aren’t going to do a thing to compromise the independence of any judges who will hear this on appeal”. With respect to the need for reform of the the jury selection system so FN people are better represented, this had been identified as a serious problem by none other than former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci who issued a report in 2013 saying the under representation of FN people in the justice system was a “crisis”. Butt pointed out that it’s up to the legislators, not the courts, to reform the system and if Trudeau had acted on Iacobucci’s advice this problem may have been averted.

  13. Blair Backman says:

    Susan:
    Sorry but you are bring in your comfortable urban background with 911 only minutes away in determining the “reasonableness” of Mr Stanley’s reaction.
    Mr Stanley and every Prairie Farmer is now fair game for looters and vandals (and yes, potential murderers -after all they had a loaded rifle in the car –why would they need that?).
    Sadly, the situation ended in the death of a young man with a blood alcohol content of .3.
    What were the dangers to the Stanleys with a man in this condition having possession of a firearm and using his vehicle as a weapon ?
    Changes have to be made, starting with serious self examination of a culture where drinking 60 ounces of whiskey a day qualifies one as a “light drinker).
    Did a tragedy happen that day—yes.
    But it is different question to ask if Gerald Stanley was guilty of murder. And this question has been answered “no”.
    To be unhappy with the verdict does not make him guilty and all those questioning the verdict from the top (Junior) down should keep this in mind.

    • Val Jobson says:

      If Stanley shot Boushie by accident, why hasn’t he apologized to the family and asked their forgiveness?

      • Blair Backman says:

        And I could ask you the same question why the Red Pheasant Reserve has not apologized to their farming neighbours for the thievery, vandalism, drunken dangerous driving and general harassment that occurs.

        After this decision has been made and a chance exists for the fiery rhetoric to die down in the indigenous community, healing may proceed.

        Conversation is very difficult under conditions of threat.

    • Blair my “comfortable urban background” is irrelevant when it comes to determining the “reasonableness” of Mr Stanley’s reaction because the test of “reasonableness” comes from Section 35(1)(d) of the Criminal Code and it’s applied to Mr Stanley’s actions (not mine) at the time of the offense. With respect to Mr Stanley and every prairie farmer being fair game, it’s a mistake to assume urban dwellers aren’t just as worried about being burglarized (twice in my case) or randomly murdered (a grandmother and her granddaughter were murdered a block from my kids’ caregiver).
      Mr Boushie’s blood alcohol content and the definition of a “light drinker” are also irrelevant, because it’s Mr Stanley’s behavior, not Mr Boushie’s that’s at issue.
      With respect to the verdict, David Butt (the lawyer I mention elsewhere) says there was an evidentiary foundation to acquit and an evidentiary foundation to convict. This is the jury’s call. He concludes “from the perspective of the evidence” it’s going to be very hard for the Crown to appeal on the grounds the wrong verdict was reached.
      But just because a jury reached that verdict doesn’t mean we can’t ask questions about racism and the criminal justice system in Canada.

      • Blair Backman says:

        The test of reasonableness is what a reasonable person would have done in the same circumstance.
        All of the things that you dismiss are relevant in determining the reaction of a reasonable person.
        A person’s reaction to a loud noise at a Sunday School picnic would probably different than that of a person at a forward coalition position in Afghanistan.
        The reasonable reaction of Mr Stanley to a home invasion is somewhere in-between.
        So murders occur in your neighbourhood-how far is assistance–come out to the rural prairies for a moment and try to visualize your backup.
        Sorry, but your (and Trudeau’s) position have driven me back to the Conservative Party. As distasteful as they are, at least they live in the real world and not some ivory palace that the left wing has retreated to.

        I agree that questions may be asked, but to ask them in the context of Mr Stanley being called a “murderer” as is being widely expressed by the indigenous community makes one wonder if what is wanted is not an inquiry but a lynching.

  14. Neil Fleming says:

    Is it any wonder how we ended up here today? Singer-songwriter John Wort Hannam from southern Alberta provides a little insight.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      This is of course part of it. We are not even discussing the fact that they were tricked into accepting treaties that would allow us to take the land away from them.
      Some people say – Well we conquered them and that was that. Well if that is the case then say it. We are good at pointing fingers at colonialism in Africa and other parts of the world but when it comes to us we just think we are clean. We are very far from it. In fact, having seen other ex colonies, I think we were actually worse than many others.
      Imagine this had happened the other way around and we were the ones in their position. I believe people would think twice about calling them drunks and whatever else.
      It is hard to see that many of our First Nations people are in terrible state and it is easy to dismiss them but just think what you would be like if you were taken away from your family and told that your culture is a pits and were very likely sexually abused. What kind of human being would you be? Just think about it.
      I do not know how you fix a situation like this but I am certain that ignoring it like we seem to want to continue to do will just make it worse and could very well change the known peaceful nation we are into something very different.
      We can start by making real changes to the most obvious problems. Justin Trudeau, just all of the previous PMs has done absolutely nothing. This is a horrible failure of integrity and honesty and sooner or later will come back to get us by the tail.

      Harce and Bryan do not call me communist again. Just stay away please, I do not want to discuss any of this with you. Thank you.

      • carlosbeca says:

        I forgot the word like in the phrase ‘ Justin Trudeau, just ‘like’ all of the previous…..
        I am sorry about that.

      • Carlos, just to add to the point about residential schools, Justice Murray Sinclair, the head of the TRC, said at least 4000 children died at such schools but it’s impossible to know the exact number because the government fired the chief medical officer at Indian Affairs in 1929 for flagging an “alarming rate” of deaths. The last residential school, Gordon Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, closed in 1996. Who knows how many more children died in the intervening 67 years?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes Susan 4000 is a low number I am sure but we are way more concerned about saving the children in Africa. I guess saving them here does not give us the same satisfaction. A very common human trait.

    • Neil, thank you helping us understand what FN children endured in the name of “assimilation”.

      • Brian says:

        What’s shocking to me is how little everyday individuals actually have the right to protect their own property. Much like our overly restrictive gun laws, this is ridiculous. Time to adopt castle doctrine coast to coast. No one can expect a police officer to be available on an instant 24-7, nor should they – lest we live in a police state.

      • Brian, I agree we don’t want to live in a police state, but research conducted in the US on the 20 plus states that enacted the castle doctrine found an increase in homicides but no deterrence effect in burglaries, robberies or aggravated assault. The study is based on FBI data for the years 2000 to 2010. Here’s the link: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18134.pdf

  15. jerrymacgp says:

    It is entirely possible that a more racially diverse jury might have come to the same conclusion as the jury that decided this case; after all, there may very well have been genuine reasonable doubt about Mr Stanley’s guilt. The issue is the perceived legitimacy of an all-white jury in a case involving a white accused and an indigenous victim. No matter whether the verdict was based solely on the evidence, it will always be tainted in the public eye with a suspicion that racial bias played a role in the jury’s decision. If measures are taken to prevent future courts from excluding indigenous and other racialized individuals from serving on the jury, the public will have more confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.

  16. Kelly D says:

    Lynn Beyak is still a senator.

  17. Bob Raynard says:

    I really feel for the members of the jury. They were given an impossible task given the message either a conviction or acquittal sends. To acquit risks declaring open season on anyone who innocently wanders into a farmyard to ask for directions; to convict leaves people powerless when people are stealing their property. They were given something extremely grey and told to declare it either black or white, and there will be outrage from people who disagree with them.

  18. Bob, I think Jerry is right when he says we wouldn’t be second guessing the verdict if the jury was more diverse. Sounds like the feds will consider eliminating the right to peremptory challenge. This would bring Canada into line with the US and UK.

  19. Carole says:

    I am sad at the tragedy that happened on Stanley’s farm that day. Having been raised in rural Alberta I am well aware of how people living in the country feel when a stranger comes onto your property. You have to think quick – is this person good or he this person looking for no good. It can be a terrifying experience the moment you realize the strangers are up to no good. The first instinct is to protect your family and your property. I feel for Stanley whose life was totally changed the day those kids entered his property. He is a victim, his whole family are victims. All their lives changed that day. At the same time I feel for the mother and family of the boy who lost his life that day. His death is a tragedy. I feel for all our First Nation people, for all they have suffered, all the racism and tragedies caused by white man throughout history. I understand their demand for justice for all the past. That kind of justice is not going to happen in this case. Whatever really happened, did the gun go off by mistake, sadly justice is not going to happen for our First Nations in this case. Nor should the lives of Stanley and his family be the scapegoat for all the suffering history of our FN.

    • Carole, I’m not sure how to respond to your comment other than to say Boushie died at Stanley’s hand. While there are many dynamics at play, it’s Boushie, not Stanley who’s the victim here.

  20. NOTE TO READERS: Some comments on this blog were not published because (1) they blamed Boushie for being killed by Stanley or (2) raised arguments based on certain bands mismanaging funding which are not relevant to this discussion.

  21. Robert Wilson says:

    Obama’s response to the outrage that followed the Travon Martin verdict set the standard for political leadership in these circumstances. He affirmed that, even in the face of apparent injustice, the acceptance of the rule of law was the only means of guaranteeing a civilized society. Our leaders, sadly, were not up to the mark, not even close. Stanley was not on trial for all the unquestionably horrific sins visited on aboriginal people across history, he stood accountable only for his actions on that day. Similarly, the jury had no mandate to judge his actions in any other context than that placed before them in evidence. They did their job,as best they could, and deserve our thanks, not the kind of drive-by accusations of racism heaped on them by the feckless politicians we seem to continually elect in this country. The real tragedy is that this could have provided an opportunity for the support of reconciliation, as most reasonable people accept that these events provide stark evidence of the urgent need to address the systematic issues in Canada’s relationships with aboriginal people. Instead, politicians and pundits on both sides of the argument have chosen to use it as a source of division, no doubt hoping to gain some advantage among the voters that keep them in power.

  22. Deborah Horricks says:

    Mr Stanley had 4 chances to have not made a mistake when he shot the young teenager. First, he brought the gun out of the house, second, he had loaded the gun, third he had taken the safety off of the trigger and his finger was resting on it, and fourth, he had the gun leveled at this head. Take any of those 4 things out of the equation and the teenager would not have been shot. I don’t believe that Mr. Stanley made a mistake.

    • Blair Backman says:

      You may believe what ever you want—but put yourself in the place of the 79 yr couple from North Battleford-if the man had responded after being shot at would you have accused him of making a mistake?
      Likewise the rancher in Alberta-what mistake may have the young burglars made—but you won’t ask that question will you?

      No one needs to die needlessly, but if the death of Colton Boushie causes the young and the wild to examine their lifestyle, something good may come of this yet.

      • Blair, if Bushie had shot at Stanley and if Stanley had fired back the question at law would still be: was Stanley’s response reasonable in the circumstances. But the whole thing is moot because no one shot at Stanley.
        With respect to the Alberta example, Watson, the thief was charged with trespassing by night, mischief to property, theft under $5000 from a motor vehicle, possession of methamphetamine and failure to comply with probation. If convicted, Watson will be guilty of committing a crime, not making a “mistake”. The rancher, Maurice, was charged with aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm. If convicted he too will be found guilty of a crime, not making a “mistake”. The difference here is Watson’s crimes fall under the disorderly conduct and property sections of the Criminal Code whereas Maurice’s crime is an “offense against the person” and is much more serious.
        Bottom line: it’s against the law to maim/kill someone running around on your land or trying to steal your property regardless of how wild or crazy their lifestyle is.

    • I agree Deborah. It appears that people who support Stanley’s actions have lost sight of the fact that Stanley was NOT in danger. Stanley had the opportunity to plead self defense but chose not to because, as he said on the stand, he didn’t feel threatened by Boushie and his friends. Nevertheless he got the gun and fired it, many times.

      • Blair Backman says:

        I do believe you are reading something into the Stanley defense that is not there. Just because the legal team chose to accentuate the mischance aspect of the situation is not to deny that the Stanley may have been at danger.

        The Stanleys, the Alberta rancher and the 79 years old couple were all at risk. Regrettable that society has sunken to the level of banditry but even worse is when the unlawful activity is conducted by individuals rendered incompetent by either alcohol or other drugs.

        Your argument is further weakened because the perps in the two cases other than Boushie can’t plead 141 years of colonial oppression.

        Ideally, society would provide peace, order and good government along with a police and judicial system to support those aims. Canada has broken its covenant with its citizens and has required them to be responsible for their own safety.

        Not a situation that I welcome or had even considered possible 30 years ago, but in todays world the rural citizens have no one else to count on than themselves.

  23. David says:

    Very thoughtful comments on ‘how we got here’ and the need for humility as we ‘reconcile’ the past with better relations and supports for success in our indigenous people. What took 7 generations cannot be undone quickly but moving to more autonomous services and focusing attention on government/first nation relations is promising.

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