Feb 27/97: A blind kind of justice for Gustafsen Defenders


The Martlet
Thursday, February 27, 1997

In any, even semi-functioning, bourgeois "democratic" state, the revelations emerging from the Gustafsen Lake trial, R. v. Pena et al, would long ago have resulted in the collapse of the government and a public inquiry into the entire affair.

The fact that this has not happened is a frightening indicator of the degree to which the system of checks and balances to state power have ceased to function in B.C.

We are first and foremost a settler state, committed more than ever to the maintenance and enforcement of a system based on colonialism, genocide and ecocide.

The breadth and scope of the Gustafsen Lake project, the array of forces involved and the manufacture of consent created by police, government and media collaboration can't be treated with any depth in this space.

Gustafsen Lake was the largest and costliest RCMP/military/media operation in Canadian history. The prosecution which began in early July, 1996, has just recently concluded.

An article in the February 8, 1997 Vancouver Sun noted the jury trial in Surrey's "anti-terrorist" Courtroom 7 "may be Canada's costliest and longest running trial."

The article further states that the proceedings "are largely unobserved by the media, which have become exhausted by the long running saga that is Gustafsen Lake."

An earlier article, as if to explain the persistent and prolonged absence of the media, described the trial as "an expensive ho-hummer", implying its unworthiness for coverage.

But for those who follow the case, the trial has been anything but ho-hum.

And expense? The $50,000 per day trial cost and the estimated $7 million dollar Gustafsen price tag shouldn't climb much higher.

As the defense began its case, the Attorney General announced there was no more money left for the defendants' legal aid lawyers. Needless to say, the defense will conclude relatively soon.

Dr. Bruce Clark, counsel of choice for many of the Ts'peten Defenders, was arrested and hauled off his airplane at Vancouver airport the day before the defense was to begin.

He was sent to 100 Mile House, and thrown upon the tender mercies of Provincial Court Judge Nick Friesen's "kangaroo court".

The alacrity with which Bruce Clark was tried, convicted and sentenced to an immediate three-month imprisonment by Judge Friesen should also awaken those deep in sleep about how the trial process is being conducted.

Bruce Clark has been subjected to a ridiculous demonization campaign by government and media for his appearance in a desperate attempt to discredit him.

The simple fact is that the government fears him and his jurisdictional arguments.

Last year the Upper Canada Law Society wrote "The genocide of which Mr. Clark speaks is real...we are sympathetic moreover to his assertion that the courts have been unwilling to listen to his arguments."

Evidently, our legal system will stop at nothing to prevent Clark from challenging the jurisdiction of the courts and government of B.C.

Clark's only crime: reading words from a law book. We are all losers in the Gustafsen incident and the abuses of power in B.C. have been revealed for all of us to see.

Too bad our eyes have been shut the whole time.

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