LETTER: Civil disobedience and civil rights
Having been on the pointy end of a couple of Justice Mark McEwan’s injunctions, I may be able to shed some light on this confusing issue.
During a dangerous month locked up in three different prisons in 1997-98 for the original Justice Glen Parrett Perry Ridge injunction that was procured by BC’s Ministry of Forestry, there was time to contemplate what seemed to me a sad way to abuse Canadian democracy.
Most judges in near sane democratic countries know when judges are issuing injunctions to the corporation that hired them, they run the risk of losing their perceived independence from their source of income. Justice McEwan was not long on BC’s bench when he ended up the trial judge on Parrett’s injunction.
The NDP ordered a hundred RCMP officers to march onto a few hundred women, children and men that had gathered to peacefully protect their source of drinking water on Perry Ridge. Later that year McEwan slam dunked into prison a near dozen folk for defying BC’s socialist government’s Slocan logging injunction.
What became clear in the Kamloops maximum security prison was the power we have as citizens in a democracy is not yet totally without merit.
It was also evident that BC’s Attorney General and the RCMP worked together to endanger the well being of those imprisoned for protecting West Kootenay drinking water and wilderness from clear-cut logging or any other economic activity that is deemed important by those banking on environmental degradation.
Within one minute of arriving in cell block H at the crowbar hotel (prison), I was viciously yelled at and threatened by a very large clown who somehow knew I was a tree-hugger. There was only one way that information could have been brought to that con.
Why would BC’s Attorney General and police forces make this effort to frighten or maim jailed citizens?
Well, some big money and some big unions work in not so mysterious ways. The War in the Woods was heating up to a boil. BC’s NDP had staged the largest mass trial in Canadian history, jailing a near thousand Clayoquot Sound peaceful protesters. This socialist kangaroo trial set the legal stage for the misuse of Canadian/British common laws and logging by injunction took off with a vengeance.
There was even a rumoured training programs by the logging association called SHARE, on how to engage and disrupt peaceful protesters for logging contractor foremen sponsored by various timber barons. They knew their influence was now entrenched in a quasi-legal manner that gave them domain over the “common good.”
Justice McEwan at some point figured out our common rules of law were being badly misused but he always finds a way to issue logging injunctions.
In the case of his Incomappleaux River logging injunction (early 2000s) for Pope and Talbot of Nakusp, his wrath toward the expensive law firm advocate was palpable in the courtroom when the fancy lawyer told Justice McEwan five RCMP trucks and better than a dozen officers were waiting in Nakusp for an “injunction” fax from Nelson’s court to take down our peaceful camp, protecting important habitat in Boyd creek for endangered mountain caribou.
McEwan nearly stood up from the bench when he realized that the Attorney General’s contracted lawyer was taking the law into his own hands by organizing a police raid on a peaceful civil rights camp before the injunction had been issued.
While Justice McEwan may have a “long-standing distaste for the courts being dragged into these sorts of disputes,” talk is very cheap when it comes from a powerful judge who knows something is unjust.
Engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in BC/Canada is not for cowards, nor is it the right most citizens on this planet are allowed. Should we lose this important aspect of a living democracy, we forfeit our children’s chance to turn away current and future pernicious intent.
Tom Prior, Nelson