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Take off the gloves. Take off the rose-tinted glasses. This is (as they say) for real. Alberta is after Jessica Ernst. And Alberta knows how to do it, has known for a long time. Alberta (you might say) means business (pun intended).
Almost no one in the ordinary population of Alberta (and fewer in the rest of Canada) understands the importance of the Jessica Ernst “fracking case” against Encana Corporation and the Alberta regulators (and against the Stephen Harper government as an active silent partner of the two others).
To win against someone fighting for the community, fighting for their own good and the good of others, Alberta knows there are steps to take. Alberta knows them all. There are six steps. The last one is the most important, the least visible … the most painful.
Step One: manoeuvre judges until the right one is in place. Alberta and Stephen Harper just did that. They manoeuvred Justice Barbara Veldhuis off the Jessica Ernst case against Encana Corporation and Alberta regulators. They manoeuvred Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s bench, onto the case. Step One achieved.
They’ve known how to do that part of it for a long time. In the 1960s case for false arrest and malicious prosecution against then mayor of Edmonton William Hawrelak, the City Solicitor, and the Edmonton Chief of Police they did it. We had a sure case. We (the inexperienced plaintiffs) were moved from judge to judge to judge (being, as they say, ‘remanded’, for as many reasons as there were judges) until the last one.
Nice lawyers told us “he’s been waiting to get you”, waiting till enough remands put him on our case. Then? Well … then … I was convinced the case was carefully, embarrassingly rehearsed. Almost every witness for the Defence, I was certain, carefully perjured himself with the able assistance of the presiding judge … and our careless and inattentive lawyer. Rehearsed perjury. Almost everyone helping. Smooth as silk. We lost the case.
In the Kelly Marie Richard recent dental malpractice case in Calgary I believe judges were set up and changed whenever it was necessary to defeat Ms. Richard. She tells the story. Go to
The BC Rail Scandal trial is the poster case for judge-changing. After almost three years on the case, immersed in its complexities, Justice Elizabeth Bennett was lifted out by Stephen Harper in 2010 and replaced with Justice Anne MacKenzie – and the whole trial lurched out of shape, as - I am sure - it was intended to do. Gordon Campbell, long-time premier of B.C. and alleged king-pin in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, was moved seamlessly by a Stephen Harper appointment to the position of Canadian High Commissioner in London, where he remains.
Step One: manoeuvre the judges to get the right one(s) in place. Step Two: manufacture, obstruct, or erase evidence as required. Step Three: Delay.
Even four hundred years ago, Shakespeare wrote (in Hamlet) about “the law’s delay, the insolence of office”. Alberta learned fast … about delay. Delay – as Jessica Ernst will no doubt tell you – is about bankrupting the claimant, dragging her, him, or them through expensive, unnecessary, time-consuming, stressful, unpredicted and unpredictable, destabilizing … delay. [Like the removal of Barbara Veldhuis and the waiting…and waiting…and waiting for prima donna Neil Wittmann …. ] Delay is about getting the person or persons fighting for self and community so worn down and bankrupted they quit. Simple.
When the stakes are high, when the claimant won’t quit - that’s not all. Few in Alberta, fewer in the rest of Canada, know just how high the stakes are in the case Jessica Ernst is taking against Encana Corporation and the Alberta Regulators. (And against the Stephen Harper government as an active silent partner of the two others.)
When the stakes are high enough, then the corrupt alliance – the Corporation/Government/Court enemy will do … anything. Watch them.
Step Four: change the regulator, re-name government bodies, appoint brazenly odious agents to head up regulation, write new legislation to stop the next Jessica Ernst. In short, do real and public relations things to block, confuse, and mask the issue. In response to the appointment of Gerald Protti to head Alberta’s new Energy Regulator, Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada was dumbfounded. Amazed. Wrongly. The appointment of Protti is – I believe - intended: both a threat and a promise of jackboot response to resistance.
Five: Threaten. The RCMP has already carefully questioned Jessica Ernst but has questioned none of the defendants.
Sometimes the threats get worse. In the 1960s Edmonton case against the mayor and others, ‘they’ threatened my life and the lives of our children. On the phone. Real people. Several times. A pleasant experience everyone should have. In Kelly Marie Richard’s recent Calgary malpractice case, Defence (with RCMP help) tried to get Ms. Richard (sharp, intelligent, capable) named mentally incompetent to act in court, threatened to force her into (quack?) psychological examination. That was only one of the threats used against her.
Step Six is the least visible, and the most important. It’s very simple. Destroy the person or persons taking the case.
Wouldn’t it be easier, you say, to take Jessica Ernst into a corner and say: “Get off our backs. Leave us alone. We’ll give you a lot of money – not $33 million, but a lot of money. Sign a note of confidentiality, keeping the agreement secret. End the bad publicity for us – and live happily ever after.” Jessica Ernst has already said she won’t go that secret route. Ever.
Encana Corporation and the Alberta regulators won’t go that route either. You may be sure. That would be to lose. They have to win, they think ... no matter how they use lawyers and judges and RCMP to violate and trample the Canadian judicial system. I believe, they think they have to do everything they can to destroy Jessica Ernst. They believe they dare not lose.
After years of Kelly Marie Richard’s tenacious struggle wouldn’t it have been easier for the insurance company to take her aside and say “we’ll give you a lot of money, out of court, with a secrecy agreement? Just go away.” They wouldn’t do it. In their heads, I believe, they couldn’t do it. In their heads they didn’t dare lose – no matter how they had to use lawyers and judges and RCMP to violate and trample the Canadian judicial system.
Her case was based upon scientifically evidenced orthodontic malpractice. She couldn’t lose her case. And so it never really started. But it’s over. Completed, you might say, though it never was permitted to begin as a normal trial in court.
All the five steps were taken against Kelly Marie Richard and her sons in a long Case Management court battle in which (then) Associate Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Neil Wittmann was in charge of assigning judges, of manipulating (Kelly Marie Richard alleges) Case Management, and being deaf to pleas of improper behaviour. Richard’s absolutely clear, scientifically foolproof evidence of dental malpractice was never permitted to be presented in a fair trial!
Think about that. Kelly Marie Richard’s foolproof, scientific evidence was not permitted to be presented in fair trial in a case that ran six or seven years! That must be a record. Even for Neil Wittmann. Her “summary” [referenced here] only covers four years of Case Management, but her court torture went on … and on.
ING was the insurer for dental malpractice. CGI was the contracted corporation to supply court/legal services. McLeod Dixon was the law firm engaged against her.
In any honest court I am certain Kelly Marie Richard’s case could not receive a judgement in the insurance company’s favour. Period. And so she had to be destroyed. Kelly Marie Richard and her two sons ended up penniless, ruined, and in need of important, expensive care for the damage done by their orthodontic “treatment”. Their incontrovertible evidence was never seen by a trial judge or a jury.
Step Six: destroy the claimant. A fair, real trial taking place, won openly and publicly for the claimant is the same as an out-of-court settlement with a confidential, secret agreement. BOTH are a signal to other injured parties to act. Both show that genuinely wronged ordinary people facing huge corporations can get justice from Canadian courts. That idea had to be killed. I believe the present odious alliance of Alberta government, corporations, and the higher court (with Stephen Harper’s assistance) intend to kill - if they can – the possibility of justice in the Jessica Ernst case.
During the Kelly Marie Richard case she received a message from an expert telling her that if she won, her victory would be impetus for other, genuinely injured parties to undertake cases. And so she had to be destroyed. If she was carefully and completely destroyed financially, socially, and in every other way possible, the message to others would be “DON’T TRY. No matter how badly you have been injured and no matter how badly the public has been injured, DON”T TRY. Look what we did to Kelly Marie Richard and her sons. We’ll do it to you, too. SO DON”T TRY.”
Think of Jessica Ernst. Think of the increasing number of recorded injuries done to water quality, to water table levels, to agricultural operations, to property and to persons by hydraulic fracking in Alberta alone, as well as elsewhere in Canada, in Australia and other countries around the world. Think how Jessica Ernst’s victory will echo and echo around Alberta, around the rest of Canada, and around the world.
Think how quickly it will turn the corporation/government alliance to reform, to repair, to pass proper legislation, to set up genuine and meaningful oversight of operations … and more. Think of the number of payouts Encana Corporation, the Alberta regulators - and their counterparts around the world – will have to pay out to genuinely injured people. Just think….
You may be sure that is what Alison Redford, Stephen Harper, Encana Corporation*, the Alberta regulators, Neil Wittmann, and Gerald Protti, for instance, are thinking about every day. That is why I believe their intention is to destroy Jessica Ernst. Five of the six steps to stop people like her have already been set in motion. The sixth step is: Destroy Her.
Canadians must say – with growing and aggressive determination - “Jessica Ernst must win”. Canadians must be absolutely determined that Jessica Ernst will win – that the Corporate/Alberta government/higher court/Stephen Harper corrupt alliance will not be able to destroy her but will be forced to serve justice and Canadian democracy.
Jessica Ernst HAS to win her case – for herself, for Canadians, for Canada, for the Rule of Law, for democracy in Canada, for the world. Canadians can make sure Jessica Ernst has a full and fair trial. They must insert themselves into the conflict in whatever ways are necessary to assure she gets justice … to assure we all get justice in the matter. Something that will stop Step Six is an angry and informed public ... and the public exposure of every dirty trick undertaken by the corrupt alliance.
*Encana Corporation Annual Shareholders Meeting, Tuesday, April 23, 2:00 p.m., Hotel Arts, Spectrum Ballroom, 119 – 12 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta.
Written by Robin Mathews
The Straight Goods
Cheers Eyes Wide Open