THE FATE OF THE TWENTY-FIVE EAGLERIDGE
Well, in court last Monday the Crown’s office wasn’t interested in pursuing Criminal Contempt for anybody except me. And one other who can’t be located. However, the civil contempt charges continue for all. If any of the accused want to forget they ever saw Eagleridge Bluffs they can apologize to the court and pay a thousand dollars or so to Kiewit and Sons.
Several did this last Monday. And while listening to these formally brave and committed Eagleridge Bluffs protectors apologize to the court for trying to stop, even for a little while, the carnage going on there I was reminded of Alexander Pope’s famous quote in his Essay on Criticism “ to err is human; to forgive devine”.
These particular accused said they erred at Eagleridge and Madam Justice Brown graciously forgave them. Which leaves the formally brave and committed protectors forgiven and Madam Justice Brown devine. Well, sort of. At least Madam Justice Brown remains cool under fire. But that’s not the issue. The issue is how the courts, through the process of issuing injunctions deprive citizens, not dozens of citizens, or hundreds, but thousands of citizens down through the years (including union struggles) of the right to a fair trial.
The courts do this by treating injunctions as inviolate, unassailable laws that when broken, rightfully leads to charges of contempt of court for masses of citizens. And to make sure this sticks, one can’t even argue against the injunction is court. It’s not allowed. Now how is that for a locked up deal? Rather like Catholic dogma. Or Muslim dogma. Question and you go to hell. But an injunction in itself is not a law, it is simply the ruling of a particular judge who may or may not even be familiar with the issue he or she is ruling on. And contempt of court charges that follow actually stand outside the criminal code of Canada.
Arrest by injunction has become a handy vehicle that our provincial government, courts, corporations and attorney general finds enormously expedient because they dispose of large numbers of disgruntled people at one fell swoop who will later have no defense in court. So when citizens wrestle with this done deal in court, the only two choices are (1) to resist by declaring oneself not guilty of contempt of court in the hopes that somebody, anybody, will help refute this repeated injustice taking place in a supposedly democratic county or, (2) overwhelmed with the hopelessness of it all, bow one’s head and submit.
To the ones submitting, I say respectfully, I think your first instincts were right. Every species grieves and is outraged at the destruction of their habitat, humans are no different. When animals are depressed and diseased, so are we. For citizens to get up the courage to refute the degradation of our life support system is a grand thing. To refute a provincial government who is developmentally challenged is a necessary thing. And to challenge the courts of BC in order to remind them that the courts are there to serve the public, not to facilitate corporation’s desires, is to exercise participatory democracy.
Let’s stop bowing our heads for daring to try to protect valuable eco systems. Let’s demand instead that the courts stop using injunctions as expedient crowd control. Let’s demand of Wally Opal while we’re at it that he do his duty for a change and direct the police to arrest us without injunctions if we are breaking the law, instead of leaving it to the courts to do the dirty work he is too lazy to do. We are citizens. We have rights. To submit to tyranny is to lose one’s confidence and faith in this life. To refute tyranny on any level is to grow in confidence and faith in the daily act of living. And we can internalize the ringing words of the 17th century poet Von Goeth: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Betty Krawczyk