Thursday, Oct 16, 1997
The appeals of several of those convicted in the Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) trial have been "adjourned generally" by the British Columbia Court of Appeal, stalling the issue of whether the BC courts have jurisdiction over native people on unceded territory yet again.
The appeals of Ts'peten Defenders William Jones Ignace (Wolverine), James "OJ" Pitawanakwat and Shelagh Franklin, in tandem with the appeal of LiL'Wat traditionalist Harold Pascal, who is advancing a civil case challenging the jurisdiction of the BC courts over unceded, sovereign LiL'Wat territory, were advanced in writing by native rights lawyer and legal scholar Dr. Bruce Clark on September 22. The persecution and demonization of Clark, and attempts by the BC bench and bar to have him disbarred, failed when the Law Society of Upper Canada ruled "the genocide of which Clark speaks is real, we are sympathetic moreover to his assertion the courts have been unwilling to hear his arguments." During the Gustafsen trial, revelations emerged of an RCMP smear and disinformation campaign directed against Gustafsen defendants and Dr. Clark. This included a statement recorded on RCMP archival videotapes to "kill this Clark, smear the prick and everyone associated with him". The NDP government has thus far refused a public inquiry into the Gustafsen matter despite calls from AFN Grand Chief Phil Fontaine, international Human Rights figures such as ex-US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Incomidios, and the Green Group of the European Parliament.
Clark is acting 'pro bono' (without cost) in the preparation of the defendants' documents "because the bench and bar of BC will not allow me to appear as their counsel," the lawyer said in a letter to BC Crown Counsel. "The reason... is, as the ground of appeal states, that the Bench and bar of British Columbia are not willing to address the law which substantiates the ground of appeal, and I am the only lawyer in Canada who is ready, willing and able to raise and defend that law."
Charles Willms, from the law firm Russell & Dumoulin, who represents the Attorney General, replied to Dr. Clark on September 25. In his letter he stated that his firm has advised appeal judge Madam Justice Huddart, that: "...other defendants who may be appealing their convictions may also be advancing the same arguments that you wish to argue on the appeal, that is, that the court has no jurisdiction over you."
In response to the adjournment by Justice Huddart, Clark wrote that: "regardless of what the law says, there is no prospect whatever that the judges of British Columbia will address the law, at least not publicly."
Dr. Clark sees the adjournment as more stonewalling on the part of the province and an attempt to keep the issue frozen in BC. "In short," Dr. Clark replied to Willms, "if your principal [Attorney General of B.C.] is now ready to address rather than to stonewall the law let us in effect agree to do so, on consent, as soon as can be arranged, before the Supreme Court of Canada."
Free the Wolverine Campaign
Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661
Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949
Box 13-2147 Commercial Dr. Vancouver, 'BC'; V5N 4B3 'Canada'
S.I.S.I.S. www pages: http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/gustmain.html
S.I.S.I.S. www pages: http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/Lil'Wat/main.html