Scott Moe says as Premier of Saskatchewan he respects the judicial process and its independence, but says he is open to dialogue on possible changes.
The Premier spoke to a packed room of reporters in Saskatoon Monday afternoon on the controversial Stanley verdict from this past Friday.
Gerald Stanley was acquitted of all charges against him in the shooting death of 22 year-old Colten Boushie from Red Pheasant First Nation.
Moe wouldn’t comment specifically on the actually decision, but spoke in a broader sense of Canada’s justice system.
“The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our democracy,” Moe told the reporters. “As the premier of this province I will always be respectful of the justice system, its processes and its independence. A process has taken place and we have to be respectful of the jury’s decision and our courts.”
That being said Premier Moe says he and his government are open to “positive” dialogue and conversations with First Nation leaders and concerned citizens on possible changes to the justice system.
Many have decried the selection of an all white jury after every visibly Indigenous person was challenged by defence lawyers as an example of needed change.
“We can be respectful of (the Stanley) decision while also having conversations and an open dialogue moving forward,” said Moe. “A dialogue that ensures concerns are being listened to…a dialogue that says that intolerant and hateful comments have not and will never be tolerated in this province.”
The premier says he has met with family members of Colten Boushie and will be meeting with First Nation leaders in the coming week.
“I listened to them,” he said when asked what the conversation with the family entailed.
Members of Colten Boushie’s family are currently in Ottawa meeting with federal ministers.
Justice Minister Don Morgan also weighed in on the verdict and says it is too soon to comment on a possible appeal or inquiry. However, Morgan does say the government would be a willing participant to discuss any changes in the legal system including around the jury selection process.
Since the verdict there has been an explosion of social media activity in response to the verdict with many hate filled comments permeating Twitter feeds and news article comment sections.
Premier Moe would later go on to reiterate his intolerance of racist and hateful comments and encouraged everyone in Saskatchewan to do the same.
(Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe at a news conference in Saskatoon. Flagged by Justice Minister Don Morgan (Right) and Deputy Premier Gord Wyant (Left). Photo by Joel Willick)