Winnipeg MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette says Colten Boushie's death was an 'abject failure of our society'
Ouellette says there were failures before and during trial that led to acquittal of Gerald Stanley
A Winnipeg politician, who comes from the same First Nation as Colten Boushie, says there were "failures of the system" that led to the young Indigenous man's death, and in the trial that resulted in a Saskatchewan farmer being acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting.
Winnipeg Centre member of Parliament Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who is originally from Red Pheasant First Nation — the same First Nation in Saskatchewan Boushie came from — called Boushie's death an "abject failure of our society to make sure that this didn't happen."
Gerald Stanley, 56, was charged after the 22-year-old Boushie was shot and killed during a 2016 altercation on Stanley's property near Biggar, Sask. Stanley's defence argued the gun went off accidentally.
On Friday, a jury acquitted him of the second-degree murder charge, sparking protests and calls for justice reform across the country.
"When you look at the sweep of events leading up to this, there were complaints from farmers that no one was solving the crimes against property that was being stolen and destroyed in Saskatchewan," Ouellette said.
"Where the state is no longer able to respond to problems in society … where the police aren't able to respond to all of the complaints by citizens in a timely manner, citizens start thinking to themselves well, if they can't do it, I have to protect my own property," he said.
"I think we placed everyone in an impossible situation by the failures of the system.… It really is a terrible thing, and it's something that I don't believe needed to happen."
He said governments need to take an internal look and do some "colossal" work on the justice system.
He added that officials should look at how to give resources to the RCMP to properly prosecute and hold people to account for violations.
Jury wasn't diverse: Ouellette
Ouellette said the system's failures extended into Stanley's trial.
"It's very disappointing to hear that the jury was not representative of the population of Saskatchewan," he said, referring to the apparent absence of any Indigenous people from the 12-person jury. (CBC News has no way to independently determine at this time whether any of the jurors have Indigenous backgrounds.)
Amid rallies across Canada Saturday, and a slew of posts on social media with the hashtag #justiceforcolten, Ouellette said the outcome of this trial shows Canada "has a long way to go" in terms of meaningful reconciliation.
"The Boushie family, they haven't had justice, because they've lost a young person," Ouellette said.
"I'm really sorry to the family that they lost a young man like that.… I feel sorry for our society because we've been placed in this impossible situation."
'That could have been me'
Another Winnipeg politician spoke out about Boushie's death at the "Justice for Colten" rally at The Forks Saturday.
"My first reaction was that could have been me — when I think about my life and the situations I was in at the same age that Colten was when he died," said Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew.
He added that he has learned and grown since his 20s, and "[Boushie's] family will never be able to see the things that Colten will be able to do."
Kinew said this case has revealed that there are issues of racism and inclusion in the justice system.