February 26, 2013
Ontario’s justice system is in a "crisis" concerning First Nations people who are over-represented in the prison system yet cut out of participating in juries, says an independent review released Tuesday. Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci revealed 17 recommendations he said must be urgently implemented in order to get First Nations involved in the court process and sitting on juries.
The changes include using OHIP and driver’s licence information to help recruit native people for juries, bolstering First Nations policing by establishing a regulatory body to oversee aboriginal law enforcement, reviewing legal aid representation and creating an assistant deputy attorney general responsible for aboriginal issues.
Iacobucci also wants an implementation committee set up immediately to drive the recommendations and he wants all working in Ontario’s justice system trained on how to deal with First Nations people.
"It is clear that the jury system in Ontario, like the province’s justice system more generally, and its counterparts . . . has often ignored or discriminated against aboriginal persons," stated Iacobucci in his report on First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries.
"If we continue the status quo, we will aggravate what is already a serious situation and any hope of true reconciliation between First Nations and Ontarians generally will vanish."
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