Premier, RCMP call for respectful behaviour as Gerald Stanley trial nears end

The RCMP is reminding the public they can be held accountable for their comments on the trial of Gerald Stanley, who is accused of the second-degree murder of Colten Boushie.

People will be held responsible for online, in-person comments, RCMP say

Barricades were set up in front of the Battleford, Sask., courthouse on Thursday. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC News)

The RCMP is reminding the public they can be held accountable for their comments on the trial of Gerald Stanley, who is accused of the second-degree murder of Colten Boushie.  

Closing arguments for the defence and the Crown were heard at a courthouse in Battleford, Sask., on Thursday. Boushie, 22, was fatally shot on Stanley's Biggar-area farm in August 2016. Stanley has pleaded not guilty.

As well as calling for peaceful and civil behaviour, the RCMP also cautioned that written and verbal comments could be investigated.

"The RCMP is once again reminding people that they can and will be held responsible for their communications, both in-person and online, and police will investigate any complaints of suspected criminal behaviour," it said in a statement released Thursday.

In late January, the RCMP said it had investigated a "number of instances of potential hate crimes" over the past 18 months. Most of them dealt with online content. No criminal charges have been laid.

Premier says be 'responsible'

Speaking at a meeting of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, Premier Scott Moe said this week the public should remember that Saskatchewan is strongest when communities work together.

"We can expect a verdict any day now and I know that no matter what that verdict turns out to be, there may be some strong reactions," said Moe.

"And while that is expected, and everyone is entitled to express their opinion in our great nation, I want to urge everyone in our province to be very measured in their reaction and let us all remember our personal responsibility for our thoughts, for our actions and for our comments and those include our comments on social media."

Chief Clinton Wuttunee from the Red Pheasant First Nation, where Boushie was from, also issued a statement saying the situation is "very difficult."

Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Colten Boushie, holds up a picture of her son as she leaves the Court of Queen's Bench during a lunch recess on the fifth day of the trial of Gerald Stanley. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

On Friday, the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Tribal Council released a joint statement calling for people to remember that a life had been lost.

Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said reconciliation has to start at the community level. 

"As we await the verdict and wonder what impact this could have on our province, and more importantly, our relations with each other, we must continue to work with each other in a good way, in a respectful way," the statement said. 

The killing of Boushie "cracked open the racial undercurrent" in the province, they said, and it could potentially contribute to further division. 

"We cannot build our future with hateful dialogue and divisiveness."

Jury charged Thursday

Red Pheasant's Wuttunee said he is anxiously awaiting the verdict.

"The young people in the car with Colten Boushie have been traumatized beyond belief," said Wuttunee.

"The untimely death of yet another First Nations youth has had a far-reaching impact on the people of Red Pheasant First Nation and in the First Nations community throughout the province."

Chief Justice Martel Popescul is giving his final instructions or "charge" to the jury Thursday afternoon. The jury is expected to be sequestered and begin deliberating shortly afterward.