Canada’s jury system may well be on it’s way out – or at least it might as well be, say critics in response to a defence lawyer’s recent request to have potential jurors in an upcoming case questioned for anti-lesbian bias. The lawyer is representing two lesbian women charged in the killing of a police officer in the Toronto area last year.
“The sexual proclivities of a stabber are no more relevant than a person’s hair colour,” said lawyer and head of the Centre for Renewal in Public Policy, Iain Benson. He charges that this incident is a precedent-setting example of “the absurdity of the new so-called egalitarianism.
“The lawyer who is even thinking of making an argument that such a factor could be relevant to jury selection needs a course in elementary logic, not to mention criminal law,” Mr. Benson told The Interim. The CRPP seeks to help Canadians understand “the important and often complex connections between public policy, culture, moral discourse and religious belief.”
This is not the first time that jurors have been questioned on their ideological biases. Mr. Benson referred back to “the now-infamous questioning of prospective jurors in the Morgentaler case” in Toronto 15 years ago. Gwen Landolt, a lawyer and vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, also remembered that incident, as well as a case two years ago when jurors were questioned about racial bias.
“Once you do that, the whole system is in disarray,” she told The Interim.
Originally, the idea was that a jury should be made up “of your peers, drawn at random from your community,” said Mrs. Landolt. They were to be “Twelve good men and true,” explained Mr. Benson.
“Jurors are supposed to be interviewed only to determine whether they have pre-judged the guilt or innocence of the defendant,” Ron Gray, head of the Christian Heritage Party, toldThe Interim. “To ask them whether they like or dislike the defendant’s social group presupposes such pre-judging,” he added.
It’s nothing less than “stacking” the jury, Mr. Gray said. “This is the first case in which this corrupt trend is fully and blatantly exposed for what it really is: screening for political correctness.”
This specific case is also an attack on Christians and Jews, said Mr. Gray. “Eighty-three per cent of Canadians in the last census identified themselves as Christians, and another two per cent as Jews,” he noted. “This sort of jury screening would exclude them from sitting on any case in which (their) principles where allegedly violated. To say, in effect, that four out of five Canadians are not fit for jury duty is to trash the very foundation of trial by jury.”
Mr. Benson asked, “We want our jurors to have consciences, otherwise why have them? What is the primary school of conscience for most people? Their religious beliefs …. Would these new trendy folk wish to banish conscience as well as religiously informed beliefs from all determinations under the Criminal Code? If so, their lunacy is showing (and) their approach cannot last over time.”