Kent Roach: Abolishing Peremptory Challenges Is a First Step Towards Impartiality
In the Colten Boushie case, Gerald Stanley’s defence team used peremptory challenges to produce an all-white jury – and the accused murderer was acquitted. In an article published on 2 April 2018 by The Conversation Canada, 2013 Foundation fellow Kent Roach argued that Bill C-75’s proposal to abolish peremptory challenges should be welcomed as “a good first step towards diverse, impartial Canadian juries.“ In response to critics, Roach demonstrated that peremptory challenges are “an invitation to discrimination” and that they undermine public confidence in the Canadian judiciary. But he also warned that “more work is needed to ensure that juries represent the diversity of our communities.” By maintaining the citizenship requirement for jurors, Bill C-75 means that permanent residents from racialized and minority groups may not be selected despite their competency and impartiality. Ultimately, our goal should be “a modern standard based on equality that ensures a fair and random sample of the community.”
Kent Roach is a 2013 Foundation fellow and a professor of law at the University of Toronto. Read his article here.