Attorney General John Gerretsen says it will take time to consider all the recommendations from a report on the representation of First Nations people on juries — but he's taking the first steps.
Gerretsen has promised to establish two committees recommended in Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci's report, called First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries. A copy of the full report is available at the bottom of this story.
Gerretsen said the two committees will play a big role in what happens next.
"We want to make sure that juries in the future — particularly in northern Ontario but throughout Ontario — have [Aboriginal representation] on their rolls," he said.
'Looking at all the recommendations'
Iacobucci's report, released in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, said the province's justice system is in crisis when it comes to its treatment of First Nations people. He made 17 sweeping recommendations — not just about First Nations jury representation but about serious problems with the justice system as a whole.
"We want to study the report ... I can tell you that the implementation committee and the advisory committee will be looking at all the recommendations," Gerretsen said.
One committee — to include First Nations representives — will be responsible for implementing the report. The other will be a First Nations advisory group on overall justice issues.
Gerretsen did not comment on another significant recommendation that would directly affect his ministry. Iacobucci wants to create a new assistant deputy attorney general position responsible for Aboriginal issues.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath weighed in on the report, saying it's clear to her that many First Nations communities are in a state of crisis.
She said it's important the government moves quickly to enact Iacobucci's recommendations.
"I hope they would act immediately," she said.
"We know that there are a number of coroners' inquests that are waiting to be struck. There are some that are underway. And we need to make sure that there is proper representation on those panels."
Horwath noted a fundamental underpinning of the justice system is to have people judged by a jury of their peers.
A spokesperson for the Progressive Conservative party said they have not had a chance to study Iacobucci's report.