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Posted: July 30, 2016

Laws only apply to some

Letter to the Editor

At the moment, BC Hydro is continuing to press on with a variety of charges in a SLAPP lawsuit against six individuals who protested the logging of the historic Rocky Mountain Fort on the Peace River in February.

BC Hydro with the blessing of Christy Clark’s Liberal government issued a 13 page lawsuit against these legitimate protestors with the following accusations: Conspiracy, Intimidation, Trespass, Public nuisance, and Intentional interference with economic relations. The six individuals charged by Hydro are facing staggering financial losses, including property loss or bankruptcy.

These fallacious, vindictive and fabricated charges by Hydro are a slap in the face of our fundamental democratic rights to protest without fear or reprisals. The SLAPP reaction by BC Hydro to the six protesters are a form of harassment, intimidation and reprisals. Their protest was done to the letter of the law. A SLAPP lawsuit or “strategic lawsuit against public participants” has the intention by the prosecution such as BC Hydro to muzzle freedom of speech or legitimate actions taken by individuals protesting Site C for instance.

Is BC Hydro totally ignorant of this fundamental democratic right of any citizen to protest? Or…. is BC Hydro simply willing to ignore or overlook this Charter of Rights legislation? Either position is unacceptable to the citizens of B.C. or Canada.

Ontario and Quebec have anti SLAPP legislation in place protecting the rights of the average citizen, while BC under the watch of former Premier Gordon Campbell repealed similar legislation in 2001. The BC Liberals, under Christy Clark are equally complicit with Hydro in their disregard for protection of these rights here at home.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro (with the blessing of Madam Clark) continues to forge madly ahead at the Site C work place while four outstanding court cases from the Peace Valley Landowners and First Nations have yet to be heard and challenged in the Federal courts. How is it possible that BC Hydro can ignore legal court challenges as it attempts to pass the imaginary “point of no return” spelled out by Clark several months ago while charging B.C. citizens for legitimate and legal protest actions?

Harry Swaine, Chair of the Joint Panel Review for Site C several years ago, is now publicly stating his own opposition to the project based on lack of transparency by the Liberal government regarding the whole review process. The panel was NOT allowed to examine any other alternatives such as natural gas, geothermal or alternates.

This is a real “slap in the face” for us here in the Peace Country as we struggle with the downturn in the natural gas industry. There continues to be a double standard by this government as it forges ahead: ignore those pesky court challenges on Site C while penalizing average citizens for their stance. Apparently, the laws only need apply to some.

Mike Kroecher and Rick Koechl,

Charlie Lake

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