Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has been appointed co-chair of Ontario’s recently announced Jury Review Implementation Committee.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of work — it’s a real challenge to try to fix a system that hasn’t worked for a long time,” Fiddler said. “I think the key is who else is going to be there, so that’s going to be the next step is to consider some potential candidates who will make up the committee.”
Irwin Glasberg, Ontario’s assistant deputy attorney general, was also appointed as a co-chair.
“(We) will be meeting shortly to look at some potential candidates and consult some people and present the names of who we feel would make a real contribution to the (committee),” Fiddler said. “According to the Iacobucci Report and also the statements that have been made by the province, I think what we are looking for is a substantial First Nation representation on this committee.”
Fiddler and Glasberg are responsible for providing advice on the selection of committee members, which is expected to be made up of First Nations leaders, public servants and others in the justice sector.
The committee is expected to be established later this summer after committee members are selected.
“Deputy Grand Chief Fiddler’s expertise and passion for improving our justice system in Aboriginal communities make him a tremendous asset to the implementation committee,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen. “By working together as partners, I’m confident we can find timely and effective solutions to address the under-representation of First Nations people on juries.”
The Ontario government committed to establishing the committee after it was recommended in the First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries report, delivered this past February by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci.
“The release of the Hon. Frank Iacobucci’s report on the jury roll was a key first step towards ensuring that First Nations are adequately represented in the Ontario justice system and I will be pleased to assist with the next vital steps in this process,” Fiddler said. “I look forward to working to ensure that the recommendations of Justice Iacobucci’s report are implemented in a way that truly addresses the crisis of First Nations in the justice system.”
The Ministry of the Attorney General also committed to implement Iacobucci’s recommendation to establish an advisory group to provide the attorney general with advice on broader justice issues affecting First Nations. This committee will likely be established by this fall.
Iacobucci was appointed to report on First Nation representation on Ontario jury rolls in August 2011 following court decisions questioning the validity of jury rolls with respect to representation by First Nations.
In addition to the implementation committee and advisory group recommendations, the report also called for the Ministry of the Attorney General to conduct studies on legal representation, policing issues and a review of the Aboriginal Court Worker program, for input by the implementation committee.
I feel a greater sense of hope and optimism these days for the future when I talk to many of our young First Nation people. There are still many hurdles and...