[Editor's Note: The following letter by Robin Mathews to the Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court is a courageous and finely worded challenge to the person in charge of justice for all British Columbians. It's essential that the questions which Mr. Mathews asks of the Chief Justice are forwarded to as many citizens as possible throughout this province to insure that the courts are made aware of the extent of the general dissatisfaction with the questionable processes and decisions that Mr. Mathews alludes to in his letter. Please pass this letter on to as many of your associates as you possibly can. For the sake of those still living in prison under false charges i.e. Betty Krawczyk and for justice concerning the unnecessary death of Harriet Nahanee consider this request of an urgent nature. Thank you. Arthur Topham, Editor and Publisher, The Radical Press]
Open Letter to Chief Justice D. Brennan of the B.C. Supreme Court
520 Salsbury Drive,
Vancouver, B.C., V5L 3Z7,
April 12, 2007.
The Honourable D. Brenner,
Supreme Court of British Columbia,
800 Smythe Street, Vancouver,
British Columbia, V6Z 2E1
copies to: Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, Madam Justice Brenda Brown, Ms. H. L. McBride, The Canadian Judicial Council, Concerned Canadians
Re: R.v. Basi, Basi, and Virk,
Registry No. VA23299
Re: District of Kitimat and Wozney v. Minister of Energy and Mines, the Attorney General of British Columbia and Alcan
Re: Complaint against Madam Justice Brenda Brown to the Canadian Judicial Council concerning the Court-implicated death by draconian use of “criminal contempt” of court and by the unnecessary incarceration of Harriett Nahanee, aged and ill Native environmental protester. [And the parallel draconian incarceration of Betty Krawczyk, non-Native protester, not addressed in the Complaint].
Law Officer of the Supreme Court of British Columbia H.L. McBride, replying (March 30) to a letter of mine to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett concerning “public access to documents filed” in the Basi, Basi, and Virk matter, repeated the objectionable terms of the general restriction of documents from public examination imposed by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm – obviously imposed with the approval or consent of judges involved and with your support. That so-called “Practice Direction” has been explained as a device employed to insure the protection of the accused. In my own experience the substance of such documents does not bear negatively upon the accused; rather the denial of those public documents to the public appears to protect those who may be corrupt members of the present and past Gordon Campbell government and other highly placed people possessing political power in the province.
With respect, I submit to you that the so-called “Practice Direction” – which is in fact an illegitimate universal gag order – is intolerable and is a violation of the freedoms of Canadians to know. I believe an address to the Supreme Court of Canada would see the so-called “Practice Direction” struck down as illegitimate. I believe a process by writ of mandamus might have the same effect. With respect, I believe that any fair-minded person concerned with justice and the freedoms of Canadians would see the present so-called “Practice Direction” as an intolerable, dictatorial, and repressive invasion of the freedoms and the tranquility of Canadians. If you do not see it as that, would you explain to me why you do not?
H.L McBride, in her letter of March 30, 2007, invited me to write to you if I “wish to obtain access to other documents which may be contained in the [Basi, Basi, and Virk] court fileÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.” (1) I wish the freedom to see all documents presently in the court file. Will you grant me that freedom?
(2) I request that you conduct a full review of the repressive protocol and write a letter to me (that may be made public) to state your findings.
In addition, I wish to record two matters with you concerning the behaviour of Madam Justice Bennett. First: in her letter of March 9 to me H. L. McBride wrote: “During the hearing [of March 6], Madam Justice Bennett Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ indicated that she will be establishing a protocol for media and public access to documents filed in this matter. In the future, copies of further documents ordered released may be obtained from the Criminal Registry upon payment of the usual photocopying charges.”
More than a month has passed and no protocol is in place though documents have, apparently, been filed. Since documents have been in the process of being filed for pre-trial hearings for months and months, why is Madam Justice Bennett delaying? Have you or Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm intervened to prevent her from making documents available? When an irrational and repressive system is put in place, as is the case with the so-called “Practice Direction”, any suspicion is possible because the essential crudeness of the system invites wide speculation.
Secondly, Madam Justice Bennett has presided in a court in which some of the main characteristics have been obstruction, delay, misinformation, and truculence on the part of some counsel and others outside the court. Why has she not employed threat of sanctions and then the invocation of sanctions misused in the cases of Harriett Nahanee and Betty Krawczyk but appropriate in the Basi, Basi, and Virk matters? Why is the Supreme Court of British Columbia practising, openly, a system of lenient or non-existent discipline for the probably corrupt and the powerful, and another system of penalty and censure – more oppressive and harsh – for principled, decent, and powerless Canadians?
That question must be answered.
In the matter of District of Kitimat and Wozney v. Minister of Energy and Mines, the Attorney General of B.C. and Alcan (Oct 16-20) you were the judge presiding; your decision was released in March, 2007.
With respect, I submit to you that your decision is wholly invalid and must be wholly invalidated by reason of your being in conflict of interest.
You were, in fact, the presiding judge in an action which saw a recent colleague of yours as a chief respondent; and to put the matter forcibly, Wally Oppal, Attorney General, might well have written the decision for you. That is a way of saying your judgement is so completely a reflection of his wishes in the matter that he might have authored the decision.
For some years Wally Oppal was your colleague in the Supreme Court. When he stepped from a position as an Appeal Court judge into a Gordon Campbell Liberal candidacy, he should have been publicly reproved by you as Chief Justice. As Attorney General of B.C. he could never appear before a B.C. Supreme Court colleague without being himself – and placing the judge presiding – in a position of conflict of interest.
In the specific case here referred to – the Kitimat case – you should have declared your unsuitability to preside over the action and you should have sought a judge from outside the Supreme Court of B.C. You did not take that simple precaution . With the deepest respect, I challenge your role in the matter and declare that I do not believe any reasonable and prudent Canadian can accept the judgement you made as an untainted judgement.
A number of matters contained in the judgement you wrote place it very seriously in question, and, I believe, place you in a highly equivocal position – apart from the demonstrable conflict of interest. I will not refer to those matters here, now.
Re: Complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council against Madam Justice Brenda Brown concerning the court-implicated death by draconian use of “criminal contempt” of court and by the unnecessary incarceration of Harriett Nahanee, aged and ill Native environmental protester. [And the parallel draconian incarceration of Betty Krawczyk, non-Native protester not addressed in the Complaint.]
As Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court you must know the extent to which so-called “court orders” and “injunctions” (providing bases for declarations of “criminal contempt of court) have been discussed by the Canadian Judicial Council and declared to be the kinds of instrument rarely used. You must know, too, that those instruments are frequently used by members of the Supreme Court of B.C. You must know that they are instruments defined by the Canadian Judicial Council in May 2001 as “not governed by the rules of court”. That means – you must know – that a corrupt Supreme Court and any petty despots or servants of corrupt government present in that court may make use of extraordinary powers “not governed by the rules of court” to attack, damage, violate or otherwise harm people not deserving of such action.
Cameron Ward, in his defence of Betty Krawczyk, said that the B.C. government of Gordon Campbell “has come up with a creative way of punishing political dissidents. Rather than have people charged with breaking laws enacted by their duly elected representatives, the conventional way of dealing with public order, the government enlists the courts to have objectionable conduct characterized as contempt of court. It does so by encouraging the use of injunctions issued in sham proceedings.”
One must extend the statement by Cameron Ward. What is “objectionable conduct” to the Gordon Campbell circle may be – in fact – simply the full exercise of freedoms by Canadians. When police are asked to remove gatherings of people expressing political dissatisfaction with policy and with the violation of democratic processes, the result is wide and deep discussion – absolutely necessary in a free society. The employment of “court orders”, “injunctions” and “criminal contempt of court” in such cases to clamp down on information and debate may be and often is, the use of repressive, anti-democratic, and intolerable behaviour on the part of the Supreme Court and its judges. They should be the defenders of the freedoms of Canadians against plots and manipulations by powerful governments and corporations.
Cameron Ward stated that Betty Krawczyk was victim of an “officially induced abuse of process”. Harriett Nahanee, many have suggested, was the murder victim of an “officially induced abuse of process”. That any Supreme Court judge in Canada would be a party to such behaviour brings the institution into serious risk of being held in contempt by a large part of the population. Such a situation cannot come to good.
If that is not bad enough, providing very powerful grounds for actions of serious discipline against Madam Justice Brenda Brown, two further, important matters must be set down. When concerned Canadians were told they could get reasons for the judgement against Betty Krawczyk at Criminal Registry in the Supreme Court building, they went there, gathered peaceably waiting for communication, and – one of them reports – were served with “a court injunction which threatened us with arrest”. As Chief Justice and, therefore, chief protector of the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the sanctity of Supreme Court space you cannot but be alarmed at such repressive and coercive behaviour. Please tell me who gave that order. Where is it recorded? What do you intend to do to assure Canadian freedoms in Supreme Court spaces in future?
In each of the matters to which I have referred in this letter you are the Chief Supreme Court officer. In each of the matters to which I have referred, I allege that reasonable and prudent Canadians would find cause for serious unhappiness at the behaviour of court officers and, alas, deep suspicion of their motivations. In each of the matters to which I have referred in this letter a simple question must be asked: are some judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and their servants acting to prevent “justice” as that word has meaning to most Canadians, and are those judges knowingly (or even unknowingly) acting in a fashion that supports corrupt, repressive, anti-democratic, and lawless forces in the society?
If the answer to that question is “Yes”, then the task of more and more British Columbians will be to sweep the Supreme Court clean, to remove offending court officers, and to restore the Supreme Court of British Columbia to honesty and competence. Such a cleaning will have to take place if you fail to act on the matters I have raised and others of like nature – unless British Columbia descends into the condition of a police state in which the highest court openly serves thieves and fascists.
Please examine each of the questions I have asked and please answer each one fully and carefully.
You must be aware that this letter does not arise from any dislike of the Supreme Court as an institution. On the contrary. It arises from deep respect for the B.C. Supreme Court and for all Canadian institutions intended to assure the tranquility of the people and the full and visible operation of judicial machinery when that tranquility is disturbed. It arises, moreover, from a deep understanding of the evil that results from courts that have become the instruments of the corrupt and the greedy for power. The primary intention of this letter, then, is to alert you to very real problems in the behaviour of some Supreme Court judges and to enlist your wisdom, your competence, and your authority in the task of resolving those problems.