REGINA — Debbie Baptiste says she was hopeful when she went into the trial of the man accused of killing her son.
Hopeful that she would find justice for Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man who was shot and killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016.
But after two weeks in court and 13 hours of jury deliberation, she left angry.
Farmer Gerald Stanley, who admitted he fired the gun on the day her son died, was found not guilty of second-degree murder. He walked away a free man.
“I just have to keep living a nightmare over and over again,” Baptiste said in an interview this week.
“It doesn’t get better. Time did not heal.”
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the controversial, high-profile verdict in the Stanley trial. A pipe ceremony and candlelight vigil are planned in North Battleford, Sask., and Boushie’s family members are expected to share their thoughts about the last year.
Stanley took the stand at his trial and testified that his gun had gone off accidentally. He said he was firing to scare off some young people he thought were stealing from him after they drove onto his property.
Boushie was sitting in the driver’s seat of a Ford Escape when he was shot in the back of the head.
Public reaction to the acquittal was immediate and intense.
While some rural property owners, fed up with high crime rates, saw justice in the verdict, social media also lit up with rage and grief.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he empathized with the pain felt by Boushie’s family. Jody Wilson-Raybould, federal justice minister at the time, pledged that Canada “can and must do better.”
The next day, rallies were held from coast to coast. A protest camp quietly set up on the lawn of the Saskatchewan legislature and stayed there for more than six months.
Within two months of the verdict, the federal government brought forward legislation that proposes to abolish peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject potential jurors without having to provide a reason.
Such challenges were criticized during the Stanley trial for allowing the defence to exclude visibly Indigenous people during jury selection.
“If they go through, these are probably the most fundamental changes to the jury system that I’ve seen in 30 years of teaching criminal justice,” said Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto.
“Just like the case was extremely polarizing for the public, it’s also been very polarizing for the legal community.”
Roach, who recently published a book about the Stanley case and its racial and historical context, said the trial received worldwide media attention because of the push by Boushie’s family for change.
“They’ve had to grieve in public,” said family lawyer Eleanore Sunchild.
Roach believes there ought to have been a coroner’s inquest into Boushie’s death. It could have examined what happened against the backdrop of racism, rural crime, policing and treaties, he said.
“What I fear is that we will continue to have polarized opinions about this case and that, with the exception of these controversial Criminal Code amendments, it may actually fade into history as just … another example of where Canadian justice has failed Indigenous people.”
One year after the acquittal, Baptiste has lost hope she will ever have justice for her son, but is still looking for “change in the justice system — that we have equal rights in that courtroom.”
She wants a public inquiry.
The provincial government, saying the trial laid bare the facts of the case, has rejected that.
Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan who, along with Premier Scott Moe, met with Boushie’s family after the verdict, said the province wants to expand restorative justice and culturally sensitive programs.
“We should never forget the tragic death of Colten Boushie and how it changed the lives of two Saskatchewan families forever,” Morgan said in a statement.
Alvin Baptiste, Colten’s uncle, wants a law firm established that would be devoted to helping Indigenous people through the justice system. He also wants a museum in North Battleford to teach people about First Nations history in the region.
Beside seeing more Indigenous peoples on juries, Debbie Baptiste wants more Aboriginal judges and Crown prosecutors. Of the 88 judges currently serving in Saskatchewan, four have self-declared as Indigenous.
But no matter what changes may come, Baptiste knows she faces one unending reality.
“I still miss my son,” she said.
“That will never change.”
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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Frances Bean Cobain feels guilty about inheriting her late father Kurt Cobain’s money because she didn’t earn a penny of it.
The singer was just two when the Nirvana frontman committed suicide in 1994, and now his money feels foreign to her because she doesn’t remember her dad at all.
“My relationship to money is different because I didn’t earn it,” she told the RuPaul: What’s the Tee? podcast. “And so it’s almost like this big, giant loan that I’ll never get rid of. I have an almost foreign relationship to it or guilt because it feels like money from somebody that I’ve never met.”
According to court documents from Frances’ divorce from Isaiah Silva, which were obtained by People magazine in 2017, Cobain earns $95,000-a-month from her dad’s publicity rights.
She admits she initially had a hard time managing her finances, but now she’s on top of her cashflow.
“I’d say in the last two years, I’ve taken real accountability at looking at every little thing and talking with the people in charge of my money,” she says. “And also realizing that you don’t have to live lavishly to live well… The one way that I was shown how to live was to… live beyond your means and live in excess. It took me stepping away from that and getting sober in order to realize that no matter how much money you think you have, it’s not permanent.”
Meanwhile, Frances is following in the musical footsteps of her father and mother, Courtney Love, and admits comparisons to her dad don’t bother her.
“Kurt’s artistry was on another level,” she adds. “As a fellow artist, I can recognize how important and substantial his lyrics and his melodies (were) and he was.”
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Kevin Spacey has demanded the unnamed man who is trying to destroy his life identify himself.
In new documents, obtained by The Blast, the disgraced actor insists his sexual battery accuser should come forward and stop hiding behind the anonymity of ‘John Doe’ – the pseudonym used by plaintiffs who don’t want to reveal their true identity.
Spacey’s accuser is also suing the actor for gender violence, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
The Oscar winner argues his accuser won’t be able to establish a need for anonymity in court and should be unmasked now. He requests that the case be thrown out if the man is not publicly identified.
The plaintiff claims he was assaulted during a massage session at a private residence in Malibu in 2016. He maintains Spacey grabbed his hand and forced him to fondle the star’s genitals and made an offer for oral sex.
Meanwhile, last month, The Usual Suspects star appeared in court to face another accuser’s groping allegations after the judge overseeing that case threw out the star’s request to sit out the arraignment hearing.
The actor is charged with inappropriate behaviour with a then-18 year old in July, 2016.
His lawyer issued a not guilty plea, prompting Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett to schedule a pre-trial hearing for March 4, assuring the movie star he didn’t need to show up in person.
Spacey agreed not to have any contact with the alleged victim.
The actor has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of people following claims made by actor Anthony Rapp in 2017, accusing Spacey of assaulting him when Rapp was 14 years old.
The allegations cost Spacey his job on Netflix drama House of Cards and he was edited out of director Ridley Scott’s family kidnapping film All the Money in the World – and replaced by Christopher Plummer.
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Fans of beloved TV series The Wonder Years were given a treat on Wednesday as Danica McKellar shared a photo of a cast reunion.
The actress, who played Winnie Harlow on the show, Josh Saviano, and Fred Savage met up for lunch earlier this week, and McKellar took a selfie to mark the occasion and posted it on Instagram.
“I got to see these guys for lunch yesterday – it was so much fun to catch up and hear how their beautiful families are doing!” she captioned the snap. “And yes, Josh Saviano, I totally agree – *you guys* are like family… I mean, we DID grow up together, after all.”
Savage is still acting and is now an in-demand director, while McKellar has become a best-selling mathematics writer and education advocate and Saviano works as a lawyer.
He followed up McKellar’s post by tweeting: “The more things change, the more things stay the same, and the more I enjoy hanging out with these 2 #fredsavage and @danicamckellar you guys are like family to me. Love ya!”
The Wonder Years ran from 1988 to 1993.
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Ahmed Hussen Dished ‘A Lot Of Baloney’ With Claim About Liberals Reuniting ‘More Families’ Than Tories
OTTAWA — “Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. This is the Conservative position on parents and grandparents. The Conservatives described parents and grandparents as a “burden” on the federal government in terms of financial support. They have described parents and grandparents as a drain on the provinces. That is their position. They can run, but they cannot hide from that position. We are responsible for quadrupling the number of spaces that parents and grandparents have to come to Canada. We will continue to reunite more families. I am amused by the Conservatives’ new-found passion for reuniting families. However, when they had the chance they failed.” — Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen during question period last week in the House of Commons.
The Liberal government was forced to fend off criticism last week over its new first-come-first-served online application for immigrants hoping to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residency in Canada.
Some critics called the process unfair and discriminatory after it closed less than 10 minutes after opening, which prevented tens of thousands of people from submitting an application. About 100,000 people were competing for 27,000 spots, said a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
Debate over the program launched the Liberals and Conservatives into a battle over how committed their respective governments have been in recent years to reuniting immigrants with their parents and grandparents.
Earlier: Hussen ‘confident’ refugee system changes can address backlog
Hussen’s remark raises a question — have the Liberals succeeded in reuniting more families under the parents and grandparents program than their Tory predecessors?
Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).
Hussen’s remark earns a rating of “a lot of baloney” — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth. Here’s why.
Between 2011 and 2015, the then-Conservative government admitted an average of 20,370 permanent residents per year under the parents and grandparents program, according to the Immigration Department’s annual reports.
The Liberals, who took office in late 2015, approved an average of 18,768 permanent residents per year under the program in 2016 and 2017.
But Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Hussen, stresses that Hussen was referring to overall family reunification in the part of the his statement where he said: “We will continue to reunite more families.”
He insists the parents-and-grandparents program is only part of the Liberals’ work towards family reunification.
“When talking about family reunification, as the minister does in the second portion of the quote, it is important to not limit yourself to the parents and grandparents program,” Genest wrote in an email.
More from HuffPost Canada:
Overall family reunification is made up of the parents-and-grandparents program as well as the larger category of spousal sponsorship.
Under the Liberals, there has been a notable increase in the number of people getting permanent residency status under the spousal program.
In 2016 and 2017, the annual reports show an average of 61,117 people per year were accepted under this category. During the Conservatives’ time in office, the annual average of new permanent residents in the spousal program was 46,027.
For overall family reunification, Genest said the numbers will be even higher in 2019 and 2020.
When it comes to the parents-and-grandparents program, he said the Liberal government has reduced wait times to between 20 and 24 months while keeping a low backlog.
During their time in power, the Tories paused the acceptance of new applications for parents and grandparents between 2011 and 2013. The move was intended to allow Ottawa to catch up on a backlog of files that had forced many applicants to wait several years before securing permanent residency.
After re-starting the process in 2014, the Conservatives set the maximum number of applications accepted in the parents-and-grandparents program at 5,000. Even with fewer new submissions, Canada still approved tens of thousands of permanent residency applications, including a burst of 32,318 new ones in 2013 alone.
The 2018 annual report said the Immigration Department managed to reduce the backlog by over 80 per cent between 2011 and 2017 — a period that spanned both the Conservative and Liberal regimes.
Since taking office, the Liberal government has raised the maximum number of applications. This year, it will take in 20,000 complete applications from the 27,000 online submissions.
Last week, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel argued in a statement that the Liberals are accepting more applications to the program without raising the number of parents and grandparents that actually get permanent residence. Rempel insisted this approach will only create another backlog, which means applicants will find themselves on a waiting list.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Immigration experts say there’s been little difference between the Liberal and Conservative approaches when it comes to the parents-and-grandparents program.
“It just sort of shows how, in fact, Liberals and Conservatives are kind of working on lockstep in this particular issue, despite the fact that the Liberals might want to identify their immigration policies as more humane,” said Sharry Aiken, an immigration law expert at Queen’s University.
“In this particular domain, we see that it’s not all that different. In fact, they’ve managed to facilitate reunification for fewer parents and grandparents than were … admitted in the Harper years.”
She noted that both the Liberals and Tories have steadily eroded the importance of family reunification within Canada’s overall immigration program.
What we’ve seen under both governments is a steady decline in opportunities for family reunification.Sharry Aiken
Aiken said about 40 per cent of the overall immigration intake came from the family class in the early 1990s. Since 2000, they’ve been making up just over 20 per cent because the government has put more emphasis on economic-class immigrants, she said.
“What we’ve seen under both governments is a steady decline in opportunities for family reunification,” Aiken said. “Both governments, really, actually wear that. It’s part of a trend in Canada’s immigration program to privilege economic-class immigration above all else.”
David Cohen, a Montreal immigration lawyer, agreed that on average the Conservatives and Liberals have admitted roughly the same of parents and grandparents each year as permanent residents.
Cohen said even when the Conservatives took in just 5,000 new applications, the number of admissions was similar to what has been accomplished under the Liberals.
“There really isn’t a right and wrong here,” he said. “It’s just a fact that there are a lot more people who want to sponsor their parents than there are visas.”
The Immigration Department’s latest publicly available numbers show that fewer permanent residents have been accepted under the parents and grandparents program under the Liberal government, compared to its Conservative predecessors.
For that reason, Hussen’s assertion the Liberals have reunited more immigrants with their families under this program is “a lot of baloney.”
The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:
No baloney — the statement is completely accurate
A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required
Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing
A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth
Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate
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