May 31st, 2017

NDP calls for national standards for juror support

OTTAWA – On Wednesday, NDP MPs were joined by Mark Farrant, a former jury foreman in a Toronto murder trial, and called on the government to make counselling and support services available for jurors who have traumatic experiences through their service.

Mr. Farrant was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving jury duty in a trial involving the grisly murder of a Ryerson University student in 2014. After finding that no help was available for jurors, the 44-year-old father of two began reaching out to elected representatives, former judges, and Attorneys General.

“Mark called my office more than a year ago because, too often, his story was falling on deaf ears,” said Murray Rankin, the NDP’s House Leader, “I wrote to my colleagues on the Justice Committee last November to call for the first-ever federal study into this issue. Since then, Mark’s efforts have led to the creation of a free counselling service for jurors in Ontario.”

Now, the NDP is calling for the Federal Minister of Justice to direct her department to work with its provincial counterparts to set a national standard of support for Canadians serving jury duty.

“When you step up and serve your public duty, you should get the support you need, no matter where you live,” said Alistair MacGregor, the NDP’s Justice Critic. “We’re calling on the Minister of Justice to show leadership here, work with the provinces and territories, and make sure these services are available across Canada.”

Rankin is consulting with former judges and legislative drafters on a Criminal Code amendment that would direct judges to offer jurors counselling and support services where necessary in difficult trials.