First Nations chiefs, councillors not eligible for jury duty in Sask.

The Saskatchewan government is making changes so chiefs and councillors of First Nations will no longer be eligible for jury duty.

The province said the move ensures consistency, because elected municipal officials including city councillors and mayors are currently excluded from jury selection.

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The Ministry of Justice said the exclusion helps avoid any potential conflict of interest.

The government said it believes Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to exclude chiefs and band councillors from the process.

The changes are the result of a provincial review of the current system.

The government added that it will start allowing spouses of elected municipal officers to be eligible for jury duty, as they were previously excluded.

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Justice Minister Don Morgan said the change ensures officials are not unnecessarily shrinking a potential jury pool.

He also said that he hopes excluding First Nations chiefs and councillors will lead to greater understanding about serving on juries.

“We’ll hope that the chiefs and councillors that are excluded will say to other band members, ‘We’re excluded. But we think because of that we need to make sure that people, when they do receive the notice, that they go and they attend,” Morgan said Monday.

© 2019 The Canadian Press