Newsreal Archives/Critic' Corners

The Following is an article from the Globe and Mail --Tuesday, March 6, 2007 --- regarding Betty Krawczyk, the 78 year old woman, who was sentenced for 10 months by the British Columbia Law Court. We have forwarded a letter to the Editor of the Globe expressing the opinion of J4Y.

B.C. woman sent to Jail over protest


VANCOUVER -- The long arm of the law has caught up once again with British Columbia's raging great-granny.

Adding to a string of previous prison terms that has given her the status of legend among many environmental activists, 78-year-old Betty Krawczyk was sentenced to 10 months behind bars yesterday for trying to stop an Olympics-related road-building project.

As sheriffs moved to bustle the white-haired activist out of the courtroom, supporters erupted in a chorus of boos and angry shouts of "shame."

Later, a group of them forced a halt to B.C. Supreme Court proceedings for several hours by occupying an area in front of the court registry.

There has been a hard edge to protests over Ms. Krawczyk's fate since the death from poor health of Harriet Nahanee, 71, one month after the frail native elder was sent to jail for 14 days in connection with the same campaign to stop highway construction on the Eagleridge Bluffs near West Vancouver.

Rose Henry, a close friend of Ms. Nahanee, was among scores of supporters who showed up at a courthouse rally for Ms. Krawczyk, already a veteran of more than 2˝ years in prison for numerous environmental protests in defiance of court injunctions.

"This is Canada's shame that we are letting another grandmother go to jail," Ms. Henry said. "It's a sad reflection on us to treat our elders this way. I just pray that we do not have the same outcome for Betty as we had for Harriet."

But Ms. Krawczyk seemed in excellent health before surrendering to sheriffs for punishment, raising her right fist and trumpeting to supporters in a strong voice: "I am a citizen. I am citizen."

Sending the grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of one to jail for blocking bulldozers, however, has raised the question of whether such sentences are appropriate for peaceful civil disobedience.

Ms. Krawczyk was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for defying an injunction barring protesters from the site.

"It's my opinion that this has really brought the court into disrepute and dishonour," said Adriane Carr, deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada.

"Betty Krawczyk was not standing on the line in contempt of court. She was in contempt of a government that makes decisions to allow the destruction of an ecosystem at Eagleridge Bluffs," Ms. Carr said. "She was standing there for her grandchildren and for future generations."

Offences such as Ms. Krawczyk's should be handled under the Criminal Code as mischief, rather than evoking the often severe penalties of contempt of court, the long-time Green Party activist contended.

Attorney-General Wally Oppal agreed that contempt-of-court cases are hard for judges "because they often involve ordinary people concerned about valid issues . . . but no one is above the law, no matter what the circumstances."

Ms. Krawczyk was arrested three times during a concerted, unsuccessful protest last summer, aimed at stopping a new section of the Sea to Sky Highway to the Olympic ski slopes of Whistler from passing through scenic, tree-covered bluffs overlooking the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.

Ms. Nahanee and Ms. Krawczyk were the only demonstrators to be handed jail time. Others were fined sums as large as $5,000.

Supreme Court judge Madam Justice Brenda Brown said Ms. Nahanee had shown no remorse for her actions, while Ms. Krawczyk's breach of the court order was "open, continuous and flagrant."

Handing down the protester's 10-month sentence during a brief hearing yesterday, Judge Brown told her that the court had warned her repeatedly to obey the law.

Earlier, Ms. Krawczyk, by now a familiar figure on the front lines of anti-logging and other environmental fights, said that the decision to risk jail is never easy.

"It's very difficult . . . Every time, I have to do my preparation. I take two or three days to calm myself to deal with the aftermath of what I know I will have to go through," she said.

"Do I want to do this? Am I ready to go through it all again? But I know it has to be done, because the environment has become the most important issue in the entire world.

She has told her family that if something happens to her in prison, it will be because of what she has chosen to do. "I'm not going to be a martyr or a victim."

No one seemed to take Ms. Krawczyk's imprisonment harder than Rona Reimer, a 10-year-old schoolgirl who, with her father's permission, took the day off to attend court.

"She's been like a grandmother to me," Rona said, her blue eyes crying in the rain. "I mean, she's 78 years old. It's terrible what they've done."

When someone handed her a picture of Ms. Krawczyk, Rona stood by herself, looking at it and sobbing deeply.


A letter sent to the Globe in reference to the article above...

Re: B.C. woman sent to Jail over protest

There are times in a society when civil disobedience may be necessary especially when government shows contempt for matters that people hold dear to their heart such for example the environment.

Betty Krawczyk is a courageous woman, who believes that the government should stop interfering with the environment and rather begin to use consciousness, as oppose to being driven simply by profit margin.

The decision of the court to incarcerate Ms. Krawczyk for 10 months, shows inconsistency on the part of the courts and the Executive Branch, for it is common knowledge that the Court and the Crown together are giving light sentencing to some and to others give a heavy penalty especially when it interferes with their pocket book.

Attorney-General Wally Oppal, who recently announced he has prostate cancer, said, according to your article that … no one is above the law, no matter what the circumstances.".

Yet those like Martin Wirick former B.C. lawyer, who used his undertaking to help create a complex web of interrelated real estate and made over 70 million dollars in fraudulent mortgages, which resulted in many innocent purchasers, are above the law.

Martin Wirick, a criminal, has yet been charged and prosecuted by the Attorney General, making any reasonable person to conclude that the government, including the bar and the judiciary, profit from the proceeds of crime executed by court officers and by other criminal elements of the population.

On Monday morning, outside the courthouse on Smithe Street, the supporters of Ms. Krawczyk , surrounded the Attorney General of BC Wally Oppal, who was in a yellow taxi cab, by yelling “Shame, Shame, Shame”. Such contempt for the Attorney General, who holds all the power in his hands, shows that the residents of British Columbia won’t be deterred by his announcement of his cancer.

Lord Acton said that, “Power does corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, however Lord Acton did not identify the meaning of power and corruption fully.

The part of the truth Lord Acton did not realize when stating “power corrupts” is that the corrupted seek power.

Only people not able to grow tall from their own efforts and achievements seek to subdue their fellow man; only people not being able to find comfort in their own mind seek to silence others; those who are unable to produce their own wealth aim to confiscate the wealth of others.

Throughout history, monarchs, religious and ideological leaders, as well as elected presidents go crazy. The French king Louis’ XIV claim “L’Etat, c’est moi” (I am the State) is typical to the leaders then and now.

On Monday, March 5, 2007, the courthouse was close to the public for a few hours in the morning however court officers, including Barristers and Solicitors were allowed to go in, thus showing that the “house of justice” does not belong to the people, as the citizens want to believe but in reality the court belongs only to the bar and to the bench.

It begs the question as to why Canadians would continue to pay the salary of judges -- the new kings in this country -- when salaries of judges ought to be paid by corporations and by court officers who get full protection under the law.

Finally, when the government and the court together loose sight and loose complete consciousness, as this government and judiciary has shown, it is then the duty of the people to rise up and be counted for, so long as no violence is used by those who protest and those who claim to protect us.

We have recently been reminded in a Supreme Court of Canada decision, in R vs Kreiger that: “It is the duty of the Judge, in all cases of general justice, to tell the jury how to do right, though they have it in their power to do wrong, which is a matter entirely between God and their own consciences”.

Sir Arthur Goodhart has told us, in his distinguished lectures on "English Law and Moral Law” that the English are not as much without a constitution as they frequently profess to be. He gives four principles which he maintains are equally basic as first or original principles of the English Constitution and one of those principles is that, “No man is above the law” and this includes members of parliament, judges, lawyers, and anyone in position of trust.

Betty Krawczyk was harshly treated by Madam Justice Brown and the AG of B.C. Consider that this is the second casualty that we know of, wherein Harriet Nahanee, an activist who also protested against Sea-to-Sky Highway route through Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver who after being held for nine days at the Surrey Pre-trial under arduous conditions, died from pneumonia at St-Paul’s Hospital. We can only pray that nothing happens to Ms. Krawczyk while in prison.