Saturday, 10 March 2007

More of the Same in British Columbia

Sometimes it's difficult to watch so-called justice get meted out. An axiom of the legal profession observes that not only must justice be done, it must appear to be done as well. Bearing this in mind, some cases conclude themselves in such dubious manner that the conduct of the legal system [especially it's alleged 'neutrality' and 'impartiality'], as a whole, is thrown into question. [While Otto von Bismarck was correct in his assertion that 'to retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making,' he neglected that the agents of the court can directly affect citizens whether or not they respect its validity and/or moral authority]

On 24 January 2007, Provincial Court Justice Brenda Brown sentenced 16 of 25 protesters with contempt of court. The judge approved an out of court settlement for nine of the accused [$250 penalty or 25 hours community service and $1,000 legal in legal costs], while singling out the remaining six protesters for significantly higher penalties [$5,000 penalty or 250 hours community service and $1,000 in legal costs].

Judge Brown sentenced 71 year old First Nation elder Harriet Nahanee to 14 days in jail for refusing to apologize to the courts for her actions [e.g. contempt of court]. Despite several preexisting chronic medical conditions, Harriet was sent to Surrey Pretrial Centre. It is now believed that she developed pneumonia during her incarceration and was admitted to St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver immediately after her release. Harriet died in hospital on 24 February 2007 from pneumonia complicated by undiagnosed lung cancer thus rendering her one of the first [unintentional] martyrs of the B.C. ecology movement.

In a separate trial, 78 year old Betty Krawczyk, an environmental activist involved in earlier blockades at Clayoquot Sound, the Elaho and Walbran Valleys, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for her non-violent passive resistance at Eagleridge Bluffs. Final sentencing arguments were heard on 19 February 2007 with the crown recommending a 9-15 month prison sentence based on Betty’s previous contempt of court convictions and her three prior arrests at Eagleridge. Betty K has dedicated her life to fighting the use of civil injunctions in B.C. environmental disputes. [NB: The use of these injunctions by the courts result in contempt charges for what would otherwise be obstruction, mischief or trespassing charges under the Criminal Code. Injunctions give the granting judge the power to determine the ultimate fate of an ecosystem, and the authority to restrict any and all unauthorized personnel from being in the area in question.]

Betty K Speaks Prior to Her Sentencing [6:18]

[Betty displays a commendable equanimity when considering her situation. As mentioned in the video, the Judge scheduled to appear that day couldn't be bothered to show up.]

The following video was filmed prior to the destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs by short-sighted bureaucrats.

An Environmental Tragedy of Olympic Proportions [5:11]

For further information, go to The Coalition to Save Eagleridge Bluffs at Horseshoe Bay, the 2010 Olympic Games Watch or Eagle Ridge Bluffs Protesting

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