When Justice Fails

They found a way to put Colten Boushie on trial for his own death

Editorial | by Stephen Whitworth

Before we get to all the anniversary stuff, we’ve got to talk about something unpleasant.

This Colten Boushie verdict. It’s garbage.

“Hey Steve,” I hear you saying. “Don’t you mean the Gerald Stanley verdict? After all, he was the guy on trial for murder.”

No, I don’t. Yes, Stanley was charged with the crime. But come on. He wasn’t the one on trial.

The man on trial was Colten Boushie, and he was dead. He couldn’t even speak for himself.

Colten was found guilty of trespassing in rural Saskatchewan. He was found guilty of drinking. He was found guilty of driving a shitty car. He was found guilty of a particularly dopey attempted theft. He was found guilty of being an Indigenous man who scared a white farmer.

And since he’d already been shot in the head, an all-white jury had no choice but to retroactively sanction his execution.

He’s like the sexual assault victim who was “asking for it” by wearing the “wrong” clothes and drinking in public.

All right. Maybe it is fair to say the jury, their pasty-faces notwithstanding, didn’t have as much latitude as they might have liked (we can speculate generously). They had to render a decision based on the law and the arguments presented to them in court. Stanley’s lawyer was better than the prosecutor. Case closed.

But like an open wound, it isn’t. One man is dead. The guy who shot him would’ve faced more consequences if he’d killed someone while driving drunk. Geez, he would’ve been punished more harshly for poaching.

Meanwhile, racist comments are sprouting all over social media like toadstools, both in quantity and intelligence. I even heard the CBC play a phone message from a guy suggesting the problem is “how kids are raised on reserves”, and the host didn’t challenge that incredibly offensive and ignorant point of view.

Were I Indigenous, I’d feel a lot less safe as a result of the Colten Boushie trial. Guess I’m just lucky I’m Caucasian.

On the bright side, I think that even most white people recognize things went sideways here. I think peaceful protest and sanity will prevail. I think, perhaps naively, that this case will, over time, lead to reforms and maybe someday a less racist, frightened and awful world. It’s something.

Unfortunately it’s too late for Colten Boushie. But it’s something.