Our lawyer reports (March 28, 2001):
Please be mindful of the fact that I am proceeding to file appeals on behalf
of four of the arrestees, and that Rod in particular must return to prison
in September to complete the remainder of his sentence if the appeal does
not proceed, and that it is not possible to proceed further with the appeals
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The Case of Conscience v. Court
A Press Release dated Friday, March 23, 2001 upon the Bail Hearing of Political Prisoner Rod McGuckin
One of two Salt Spring Island adults sentenced to significant prison terms for opposing Texada Land Corporation's actions, Rod McGuckin is the only one incarcerated at the Nanaimo Correction Centre today. Two persons have served ten and fifteen days each.
Mr. McGuckin, a 47 year old Salt Spring carpenter, received double the jail time of Jason Flis who was released this week young: 60 days. Each man was arrested after the same non-violent action: Locking onto a logging truck to prevent its movement for a few hours.
Upon the Order of Madame Justice Boyd of the Supreme Court of British Columbia made May 10, 2000, that became a crime on Salt Spring Island. Before May 10, 2000, according to the sworn testimony of Sgt. Paul Darbyshire of the Salt Spring R.C.M.P. detachment at the Provincial Court trial of David Shebib, stopping one logging truck was an act of lawful political protest, not a crime.
At the beginning of Mr. McGuckin's ten day trial for criminal contempt of court, Sgt. Paul Darbyshire of the Ganges R.C.M.P. detachment agreed under cross-examination by McGuckin's lawyer, Mr. John Davies, that he was forced by the May 10, 2000 Order of Madame Justice Boyd, to act against his conscience and arrest Mr. McGuckin and the others for what he considered to be lawful political protest.
During the sentencing hearing March 1, 2001, the trial judge, the Honourable Mr. Justice Peter Lowry interrupted Mr. McGuckin mid-sentence, telling him to sit down and shut up. On March 2, 2001, Justice Lowry sentenced Mr. McGuckin, a first offender and good citizen of unimpeachable conscience, to 60 days imprisonment.
Mr. McGuckin was explaining to Justice Lowry how his personal conscience was provoked by Texada Land Corporation's repeated assaults and threats against forest defenders, as well as uninvolved Salt Spring citizens. In one drunken invasion in a dark and rainy night, Curtis Jazwal and other loggers of Tim Dorman's crew picked up a young woman in a pup tent and tossed her "like a piece of garbage" onto rough rock road ballast. Jazwal punched another young man, and sprayed a noxious chemical, in his face.
Mr. Jazwal, for this, his fourth violent assault conviction, had earlier received no prison sentence whatsoever from Judge Quantz in Ganges Provincial Court. B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges have suggested that loggers' violence is foreseeably provoked when non-violent citizens interfere with their work of destroying irreplaceable ecosystems.
When stopped mid-sentence by Justice Lowry on March 1, 2001, Mr. McGuckin was referring to earlier trial testimony by Ms. Aylwin Catchpole of a reported rape by a logger of a Salt Spring woman. Earlier that day, Mr. McGuckin's lawyer, Mr. John Davies, was stopped in mid-sentence and told to sit down by Justice Lowry while stressing that the whole of the law is relevant to public safety issues.
The learned trial judge had ruled irrelevant and inadmissible a stack of sworn statements from Salt Spring citizens testifying to threatening behaviour, assaults and lies perpetrated by Texada Land Corporation. Justice Lowry ruled that his jurisdiction did not include matters of conscience or equity when enforcing a court order made for the benefit of a private corporation. The statement of Barb Aust, Principal of Fulford Elementary School, that she and her grandchild were almost crushed by a loaded logging truck running a stop sign, was ruled out.
The learned trial judge had ruled irrelevant and inadmissible evidence that the destruction of biological diversity constituted a crime against humanity, giving rise to a right and duty of citizens to stop it. The court heard, but refused to admit, that both the governments of Canada and British Columbia proclaimed their ratification of the international Convention on Biological Diversity as vital for human survival. The court heard, but refused to admit, the Declaration of World Scientists that human survival is threatened.
Justice Lowry refused to let experts in international law, protection of endangered ecosystems, protection of drinking water, civil disobedience and eco-psychology take the stand to testify to their special knowledge of these grave matters of conscience. The court heard, but did not consider, the thousands of hours of time invested by volunteers to develop the Salt Spring Island Community Plan, and that Robert MacDonald of Texada Land Corporation stated "I feel good about" violating local sustainable logging laws.
Justice Lowry in his Reasons, decided that the state of mind of Mr. McGuckin and the others was one of "reckless indifference".
The doubling of sentence for Mr. McGuckin may be seen as a direct judicial attack upon Mr. McGuckin's conscience, by a deliberately unconscionable court.
The Sierra Legal Defence Fund poll of Canadians released January 29, 2001 suggests that 94% of Canadians value biological diversity protection more that private profit. The continued dominance of the minority over the majority interest in species survival, to effect the unlawful destruction of the very subject matter of the Convention on Biological Diversity, leads one to conclude that Canada is ruled by a mob in the sense of organized crime. Thus, while the court perceives itself as protecting Canadians from the mob rule of ecosystem defenders like Mr. McGuckin, citizens perceive the court as enforcing mob rule by eco-criminals who threaten, assault, lie and destroy with impunity and reckless indifference to our common future.
Access Law Centre, 173 Whims Road, Salt Spring Island, B.C. Canada V8K 1C1Legal Defense Funds
Tel: 250-547-4061 Fax: 250-537-4071
- Tax-Deductible Receipt: Green Conscience Fund, P.O. Box 353, SSI, V8K 2W1
- "Island Star" Account: Island Savings Credit Union, Ganges
- Lawyers Trust Account: John Allan Davies Law Corporation/Access Law Centre?