Bulldozer #1: Just-Us continues in Brutish Columbia [SISIS note: the following article appeared in the April 1997 edition of Bulldozer.]


"I do not wish to be a captive of the evil machinations of the BC legal system, for it is operating entirely outside of the rule of law's parameters, and I have important work to do..."
- Dr. Bruce Clark, letter to M. Azevedo (Ts'peten legal team), Oct. 6, 1996

On September 15, 1995, just over a year previous to writing the above letter, Dr. Bruce Clark, native rights lawyer and counsel of choice for the Gustafsen Lake Defenders, was desperately attempting to file his clients' impregnable legal arguments, that would stop a planned assault by the largest and costliest RCMP/Canadian Forces operation in Canadian history, against the dozen or so elders, women, children and men in the Tspeten sundance camp.

What Clark encountered in the small 100 Mile House courthouse -- where several voluntary "walkouts" from the camp would have their first bail hearing -- had not been seen since the Magna Carta. The courtroom was locked. Police barred the door. Clark was refused entry. Lawyers hired by his clients' Tribal Council enemies, would be appearing in place of Clark -- despite the accused's urgent requests to see him. Assaulted by police as he forced his way into to courtroom and assaulted again by police and sheriffs inside, at the counsel table, Bruce Clark was himself cited for assault and contempt of Court by the presiding judge -- Nicholas Friesen of the BC Provincial Court.

The actions of BC's NDP government had already aroused the outrage of the world. These latest actions of Nick Friesen's kangaroo court brought letters and faxes flooding in to politicians. International human rights lawyer and ex-US Attorney-General Ramsey Clarke, in Sept. 26, 1995 letters to Judge Friesen, BC's NDP A.G. Ujjal Dosanjh, and BC's Chief Justice Allan McEachern wrote:

"Have you no sense of judicial ethics or common decency?...You give the appearance of an arrogant and hateful tyrant determined to humiliate Indians and destroy the professional and personal reputation and livelihood of their lawyer...and where will Indians obtain independent, courageous and effective counsel to represent them in your court?"
Later, on June 19, 1996, the Upper Canada Law Society would overturn attempts by BC's legal and political establishment to disbar Clark, finding that: "the genocide of which Mr. Clark speaks is real...we are sympathetic moreover, to his assertions that the courts have been unwilling to hear his argument."

When next Bruce Clark appeared before him on September 18, 1995, led in past the national media like some Silence of the Lambs psychotic killer, in manacles and leg shackles, Judge Friesen committed Clark to a psychiatric hospital. Friesen judged him as a delusional paranoid for raising and persisting in his clients' point of law. When Psychiatrists rejected Friesen's diagnosis and released him, Clark, upon the instructions of his clients, proceeded to Europe and the US to pursue international remedies. Correspondance from Clark to BC officials inviting them to proceed "in absentia" were rejected and Canada wide warrants were issued for his arrest.

Meanwhile, his clients, denied counsel of choice, proceeded with provisional legal counsel into the criminal trial -- hoping that Clark could return to present their arguments of no jurisdiction and unsurrendered Indigenous sovereignty to the jury.

After 8 months of persecution masquerading as prosecution and revelations of a police "smear and misinformation " campaign, as well as statements made on police "training videotape" to "kill this Clark -- smear the prick and everyone with him," negotiations began for Clark's return.

On February 13, 1997 a protocol was reached with Regional Crown Counsel and BC's Attorney-General: Dr. Clark would return to BC. Trial dates would be set. And, as stated in a letter to Ray Hall - Regional Crown Counsel:

"I am pleased to advise that I will arrive at Vancouver Airport on February 18, 1997 via Canadian Airlines flight 911. I will as you suggested, thereafter meet with an agent, namely BC solicitor Manuel Azevedo. I will be scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court of BC in Surrey on the following day..in the trial in progress of R. v Pena et al... the Supreme Court scheduling will have to take account of my unavailability while in Provincial Court (R v Bruce Clark) or vice versa.
Bruce Clark was hauled off flight 911 on February 18 and taken to 100 Mile House before Judge Friesen, who, acting as prosecutor, witness, and judge, sat on his own contempt charges, found Clark guilty, and sentenced him to a 3 month prison term. Friesen suggested that a second conviction would bring a five year term. Bail was denied.

On March 11, the BC Court of Appeal reserved judgement on his appeal. Judging from the hectoring and badgering of Clark's counsel, Manuel Azevedo, by the 3 judge panel however it seems likely that the only lawyer ever sentenced to prison for contempt of court, will spend the next 3 months washing pots and pans in the kitchens of the Prince George Regional Correctional Center.

Meanwhile,the other BC political prisoner, the Shuswap elder Wolverine, as well as Clark's other clients including the Mi'gmaq nation for whom Clark was to argue native sovereignty in the Supreme Court of Canada as part of a case on Quebec secession, anxiously watch the "sinister machinations" in BC.

Back to SIS