- Category: news
- Created: Tuesday, 24 September 2013 15:14
- Published: Tuesday, 24 September 2013 15:14
- Written by Administrator 3
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By Alan S. Hale, Kenora Daily MIner and News
Ontario Attorney General John Grettson has announced the members of the committee the provincial government promised in June to create in order to deal with the issue of First Nations people being underrepresented on the jury roll. Among the members are two local faces: former superior court judge at the Kenora courthouse, Erwin Stach; and lawyer and former Grand Chief of the Treaty 3 Grand Council, Diane Kelly.
“I’m confident that this group, with input and advice from our First Nation partners, has the right mix of professional expertise and lived experience to help us find the practical solutions we need to enhance the representation of First Nation people on juries. I look forward to seeing progress from the committee very soon,” said Gerretsen in a statement.
The problem of there not being enough First Nations people on the jury roll arose in Kenora with the the 2008 manslaughter trial of Clifford Kokopenace. After being tried at the Kenora Courthouse, Kokopenace successfully appealed his conviction on the basis that there were not enough residents from Kenora’s surrounding aboriginal communities.
In response, the provincial government commissioned a report on the problem by Justice Frank Iacobucci which was released in February. It will be the 11-person committee’s job to implement the recommendations of that report.
“With today’s appointments the committee begins its important work overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries report authored by the Honourable Frank Iacobucci. The committee members bring a range of perspectives to the table and I look forward to seeing the results of the important work of this committee,” said Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer.
The formation of the committee was actually the first recommendation made in Justice Iacobucci’s report. Other recommendations include increased cultural training for justice officials, the creation of an assistant Attorney General position for dealing specifically with First Nations issues, publishing aboriginal language brochures, videos and finally, educational seminars to explain the value of participating in the justice system to reserve residents.
The report also calls for an overhaul of the jury selection process by making jury selection questionnaires simpler, narrowing the kinds of convictions that disqualify participation in a jury and working with communities to get an accurate list of names for the jury roll.