Is Anyone Out there
Betty Krawczyk if a grandmother, and the harshness of the sentence is generally viewed, and certainly by myself, as a message that is being sent to all those many citizens from many walks of life and social classes, not only opposed for social and economic reasons to these games, as a huge expenditure of capital that could be better spent in more socially useful ways (low income housing, day care etc.), but also to such destruction of the environment as that at Eagle Bluffs, in order to facilitate the games and move more polluting vehicular traffic. The message being, behave your fucking selves, don't interfere with the Big Money dreams of the Howe St. Big Boys at the Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Club. Tend to your goddamn knitting instead, Granny.
The viewpoint below is that of one of her friends and fellow activists, currently being widely circulated, and stands on its own merit.
For myself however, I would say that what has happened to Betty is part of the price that is going to have to be paid by far, far greater numbers of citizens, unfortunately, fed to the teeth with the neo-conservative ruling class agenda, driving not only these Winter Games but the general deterioration of such limited democracy as has only ever been in place at the best of times, the sell-out of the country, its people and resources to a likewise 2010 North American Union, already likewise apparently signed, sealed and just waiting to be finally delivered.
There are too few people yet, likewise unfortunately, possessed of the qualities of this woman of courage, prepared to make the sacrifice and engage in a struggle with the system. And until there is such a movement with more breadth and depth, the social retreat and rise of this more aggressive ruling class right, armed with its Madam Justices and Courts will continue to hold sway over all our lives.
The tip of my hat to ya, good woman. Takes me back to my own arrest and trial for blocking the Naval Dockyard in Victoria, years ago, during the Vietnam War, protesting the presence of US warships there. (I was hardly out of the navy myself, as I recall. :-)
Why I ask is I often wonder at the general unawareness on a subject that concerns each and every citizen and affects our lives on a daily basis. Canada is a democratic nation governed by the rule of law. This may sound like a rather simplistic statement of fact. However, many confuse justice, ethical and moral rightness with law and continue to labour under the delusion that because a certain subject matter is morally right and ethical it is enshrined in secular law.
I am a firm believer in the necessity of the Rule of Law as a tool (as slow and as cumbersome as the mechanics of it are) that offers recourse and protection for average citizens. However, I am not naïve enough to think there is justice apart from appropriately written, people-oriented law. There is NO justice, without the appropriate law, only law. Period. And, as soon as people who are fighting for the protection of citizens such as Betty Krawczyk, for example, realize this, the sooner positive steps may be taken to change, write or amend laws through legislation to further protect the rights of citizens.
Much more could be said about the process but I do not want to get bogged down in detail.
Recently there was an online suggestion to write letters of support for Betty Krawczyk and forward them along to Madam Justice Brown prior to sentencing Betty for contempt of court.
While I fully support environmental activists, being one myself, I do not support writing letters to any judge prior to sentencing on a contempt of court charge. I feel this is not a good idea and may do a lot of damage to defendants, perhaps even resulting in heavier sentences and the increase of jail time.
Pertaining to Madam Justice Brenda Brown (1), she was the judge who, in an unprecedented move, froze the assets of the BC Teachers Federation stopping the BCTF from (direct quote) “using their assets to further the breach of court order”.
Madam Justice Brown stressed emphatically in her ruling that it is (direct quote) “imperative that all citizens obey orders of the court”. She also used the term “immanent attribute”, which implies orders of the court as being (according to Webster’s New World College dictionary) “inherent” or “ without question”and to stress the seriousness, “present throughout the universe; distinguished from transcendent”. (2)
There is no doubt in my mind that Justice Brown would ever change her judgment as to the “immanent attribute” of court orders. Therefore, all the letter writing in the world, would neither budge nor influence this judge in lightening her sentencing. (3) The opposite may very well be true.
I am also reminded of the last court case I witnessed wherein the man accused was initially protecting his property and water source from being poisoned and was given advice from counsel prior to his sentencing. The lawyer told the man that when the judge asked, “Do you have anything to say in your defense”, to reply “No” and leave it at that. Why? Because, as the lawyer explained, too many people take this opportunity, rattle on as to the reasons why they did what they did, and all it does is annoy the judge and he has seen too many sentences come down harder because of it.
Likewise with letter writing judges in support of defendants prior to sentencing…bad idea…why run the risk of annoying the judge and making it harder on the defendant?
I would hope that supporters and/or advocates of those charged with contempt of court take this suggestion seriously. The criminal contempt of court charge is not about protecting the environment; it is about flying in the face of the rule of law by deliberately defying a judge’s order. There’s nothing like pissing off a judge!
It is wisdom on the part of citizens to gain accurate knowledge of the legal system under which we live and function, for to naively think that justice will prevail based solely on natural laws plus ethical and moral rightness leaves people vulnerable and open to all sorts of bitter disappointments, not to mention jail time.
What does the Rule of Law mean? “It means that everyone is subject to the law; that no one, no matter how important or powerful, is above the law…” it also means that, “If anyone were above the law, none of our liberties would be safe.” (4)
The time to lobby for people-oriented regulations and laws is well prior to the fact, not after it. Otherwise, the tune as sung by the Bobby Fuller Four, “I fought the law and the law won” could well become a jailhouse lament.