Jessica Ernst Is All Of Us by Robin Mathews, Autumn 2015, Dialogue Magazine, Vol 29 No 1
The administration of justice in Alberta could be compared more closely to Honduras than to most democratic countries under the British tradition. It is totally outrageous that judges be allowed to chose the cases they want to hear because of their own interests.
In Alberta the legal system is so corrupt that it doesn’t even have to pretend to be impartial. …
Indeed, Jessica Ernst is all of us.
– Phil Little, August 11, 2015, Honduras
She is fighting the system – fighting the Alberta government as well as big Oil and Gas in Alberta who are closely cooperating with the dishonest federal Conservative government. She is fighting the Alberta Regulator (whose head was, formerly, a top officer in Encana Corporation and president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers). She is fighting Encana Corporation, (not to mention the conventional press and media of Canada) – about the pollution of her own property and water supply and what everyone knows is also true – the polluting fact of fracking for oil and gas wherever water sources matter and agricultural land is involved.
She is fighting them in a dubious Alberta court (and lawyer) structure which puts Jessica Ernst (scientist and long-time oil patch actor) in the position of every Canadian. That needs explaining. Around the planet, so-called democratic societies have become so corroded, so perverted, so mangled out of shape that to get “democratic” rights requires full-out, unswerving, endless combat against the forces supposed to be protecting the population and its freedoms. Any Canadian seeking justice, as Jessica Ernst is doing, will face exactly the same struggle – until we all make change happen.
That is because – short of armed violence (in fact organized revolt) those fighting for democratic behaviour, for justice, for equality before the law, for rights of free expression face police forces willing to violate their fundamental role, lawyers who will not challenge power, courts that are for sale to the richest bribers, political parties ‘bought’ by huge private corporations.
One instance stands out dramatically. Jessica Ernst has been fighting her case for eight years. Almost everything about Conservative rule in those years was, in her matter, almost certainly negative, deceitful, corrupt. The NDP has swept into power in Alberta … and has done nothing to effect necessary change so that every principle Ms. Ernst stands for and every evil she faces are seen clearly in the light of fair, just, democratic behaviour insisted upon by the new government.
Those who reply, quickly, that the NDP in Alberta cannot offend the oil and gas sector in that province are saying, simply, that those forces make up the government of Alberta, not the freely elected representatives of the people sitting in the Alberta legislature.
Around the planet so-called democratic societies have become corroded, perverted, mangled out of shape. Alberta is, at this moment, shining a bright light on that fact. Unless the new Alberta NDP government makes some significant changes in regulation, oversight, ownership, royalty payments, and protection of the population, it will be giving evidence that it serves profit-making private corporations – not the people of Alberta and Canada.
In her (August 2, 2015) CBC Sunday Morning interview (shared with Toronto lawyer Murray Klippenstein) Ms. Ernst hinted at ugly truths with which some of us are familiar – and which all Canadians should know.
Put simply, she will be said by many to be facing a gigantic, (almost) lawless oil and gas corporate structure working in close cooperation with a dishonest federal Conservative cabinet in league with an Alberta Regulator headed by a former high Encana Corporation executive apparently appointed to frustrate justice – and a court headed by a judge whose arrival on the case was unusual to the point of being … very strange indeed.
In short, one may ask if a criminal consortium made up of senior government, provincial government, provincial regulator, the gas/oil monster in Alberta, and the judge on the case is working to destroy Jessica Ernst – to be rid of her and to provide a powerful, negative example to anyone else who is fool enough to seek remedy in Alberta for harm done to him, her, and/or the Public Good.
To begin, she was not able to obtain satisfactory legal representation in Alberta because of what I believe is the essential, fundamental corruption of many lawyers in that province.
Lawyers not willing to take legitimate cases against powerful corporations and/or governments are declaring, simply, that they are cowardly and corrupt. They are denying ordinary Canadians the fundamental right to seek remedy for harm done to them. And since “going to law” is the peaceful means citizens have to seek justice for injury done to them, the law profession denies Canadians what are absolutely basic rights when it refuses to act for them.
In addition, in my experience, many courts of Alberta are equally disreputable. Canadians have, I believe, every reason, for instance, to doubt the probity of the judge on the Jessica Ernst case: Chief Justice Neil Wittmann of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. My own experience with him in a matter relating to the BC Rail Scandal trial (2007-2010) left me without confidence in his judgement. In the B.C. case, as I have written elsewhere, the “honest” judge on the case was removed by promotion to the Appeals Division of the courts. (That had to be an act participated in by senior court officers in B.C., by the Stephen Harper Conservative cabinet, and, perhaps, by the B.C. cabinet. It was not a random act.)
The replacement judge refused to act on absolutely certain evidence that the Special Crown Prosecutor on the case (appointed in 2003) was named in flagrant violation of the legislation governing such appointments. The result, from the moment of his illegitimate appointment, was that the investigation, the construction of evidence, the pre-trial, and the trial were illegitimate.
To seek a remedy for the judges’ refusal to act, I appealed to the highest place – the Canadian Judicial Council. Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta, Mr. Justice Neil Wittmann acted on behalf of the CJC of which he was a member with the judge complained against. He denied (spuriously, I believe) any legitimacy to my complaint. He, therefore, I believe, legitimized a long court procedure that was (a) totally illegitimate and (b) very likely corrupt from start to finish. (That was after the refusal of the B.C. Attorney General’s ministry, the Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice and the new judge on the trial to act in any way. The judges did not deny the allegation; they simply refused to act). The assistant deputy Attorney General wrote that the matter could not be examined since it was sub judice. That was outright nonsense. The position of the Special Crown Prosecutor was in no way under court examination. (The conventional press and media refused to report the illegitimate appointment.)
Without exaggeration, I think one may refer, in this matter, to a criminal consortium engaged in the repression of truth and justice and in the prevention of a fair and just remedy for the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the (now U.S. owned) CNR.
Canadians might believe they are experiencing a bad Hollywood film when I tell them that the first judge dealing with Jessica Ernst’s case was peremptorily appointed to the Appeals Division of the Alberta higher courts. That was an action that could only be effected by the Conservative cabinet in Ottawa … and it was an act that mirrored the BC Rail Scandal case in British Columbia. Rather than appoint another judge to the case, Chief Justice Neil Wittmann volunteered to take over the Jessica Ernst case … a very strange development to say the least and, I regret to say, suspicious.
One way of seeing his conduct in the Jessica Ernst case is as a servant and ally of big oil/gas and the other forces seeking to defeat Ms. Ernst’s attempt to seek redress for wrong done to her. Wittmann’s ruling that the actions of the Alberta Regulator are outside the reach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is, to my mind, an outrage. If upheld, the chief defence of ordinary Canadians against abuse, mistreatment, harassment, oppression, and gross injustice at the hands of government and government appointed agencies will be erased.
In forcing Ms. Ernst to seek from the Supreme Court of Canada a judgement that no action of any person or agency of government is outside the reach of the Charter, Chief Justice Wittmann has, in my opinion, deliberately delayed the trial unnecessarily and has caused Ms. Ernst anxiety, time, and costs to which she should not have been subjected. That he was upheld in his judgement by the Alberta Court of Appeal requires no comment whatever.
As if to provide a mirror-image of the Alberta conflict – though on an international scale, the present government of Greece has been beaten into submission (as an intended rejection of the expressed democratic will of the people of Greece) by the international banks, European Union finance ministers, newly-inspired German imperial ambitions, and silent private corporations greedy for cheaply-acquired Greek assets.
Greece is to be starved. Unemployment and taxes are to rise. Pensions are to be cut. Greek assets are to be sold at bargain-basement prices to private owners anywhere on the planet. The Greek population is to be made permanently destitute.
That is to be so – reported the international spokesman for the Greek government on CBC radio in July, 2015 – not for economic reasons but for political reasons. Greece has a reform government which sought the direction of its people by referendum – and it has to be punished … brought to its knees to show every other national population that the banks and the big private corporations rule European countries – NOT the freely elected representatives of the people.
In the most recent issue of le Monde diplomatique (Aug. 2015) the former Greek minister of finance, Yanis Varoufakis, (ousted, apparently, at the insistence of Germany) writes that the sole objective of the European Union “was to humiliate us”. He insists Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, showed open contempt for “the most elementary democratic principles”, and that Wolfgang Shauble, German finance minister, cared nothing that a new government had been elected in Greece to seek new credit terms, insisting democratic change (elections) means nothing.
Almost unbelievably, Varoufakis points out in his article that the so-called “Eurogroup” which brought Greece to its knees insisted upon meeting again (to reject all proposals by the Greek government and to punish all Greeks). AND it insisted that Varoufakis not be present. When Varoufakis protested, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Eurogroup president, replied that: “the Eurogroup does not possess any legal existence. It acts as an informal group, and, as a consequence, there is no written law that can limit the action of its president.”
The punishment of Greece was intensified by a wholly irresponsible (but all-powerful) “informal group” after the Greek people in a freely held referendum rejected the unfair demands of the E.U. actors – after the democratic will of the Greek people was made known.
The corrupt Conservative government of Canada, in the hands of global private corporations, has fed the power of the gas/oil giants in Alberta (and all Canada) – removing oversight, weakening environmental regulation, and selling-out Canada’s sovereign power in order to feed private and foreign corporate interests. It has prepared the ground for the corrupt fog Jessica Ernst has had to try to see her way through. It has sacrificed a stable industrial economy in order to serve gigantic (often foreign) corporations. It has hollowed out the Canadian economy in order to serve the forces that have brought Greece to its knees.
Jessica Ernst, almost unconsciously – in fighting for freedom of expression, clean water, fair legal procedure and justice in the Alberta courts is a symbol of the undeclared war being fought globally against anyone in democratic society (whether a whole government, Greece, or an individual, Ernst) insisting that democratic rights and the freedom of the population be observed, defended, and declared inalienable.
Under the (false) guise of fairer trade, open markets, and higher standards of living made possible by the planetary flow of cheaply produced goods – the gigantic, obscenely wealthy corporations (big banks, big oil, big high-tech ops, “the One Per Cent”) are buying political parties, adding governments to “costs of operation”, raping the global environment, enslaving whole populations, and oppressing any and all who resist…. Greece has resisted and has become the first European nation to be a symbol of the fight back … which is only starting ….
Jessica Ernst has found the source of the rot in Canadian democracy right in her own back yard (literally). She is all of us. She is leading the fight against the rot. She must be an inspiration to all decent Canadians to go to work and generalize her insights … and to work on the restoration of democracy in Canada. Like the new party, Syriza, in Greece, Jessica Ernst is a bellwether, a symbol, an inspiration, a very loud wake-up call. If present political parties will not boldly take up the fight opened by Jessica Ernst, Canadians will have to create their own new party, their own Syriza, and set to work to return Canada to Canadians and to the democracy Canadians created (and are only beginning to understand is being wrested from them).