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Mi'kmaq Warrior bail hearings risks turning into week-long event

Zero down, six to go as first day draws to a close

by Miles Howe

Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today's non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today's non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Moncton, New Brunswick – The Moncton courthouse was again abuzz today as supporters of the six remaining incarcerated members of the Mi'kmaq Warriors Society awaited their bail hearings. Originally, the court was supposed to process the hearings of Coady Stevens, Dave Mazerolle and Jason “Okay” Augustine. However, due to the Crown's attempts to pile on extra charges on all three men, not even Coady Stevens' bail hearing was completed.

The defence team of Gilles Lemieux and Alison Menard have requested a press ban on the evidence presented in court today, so details of the charges will have to wait, potentially for the actual trial (if there is one) or beyond. We can say that Stevens is up on six charges, however, and they are as follows: Two counts of threats, two counts of obstruction of justice, one summary assault and one count of unlawful confinement.

The unlawful confinement would be the 'big one', as the Crown appears to want to proceed on it as an indictable offence, which carries a maximum sentence of not over ten years. Surprisingly, the unlawful confinement is related to incidents that occurred on or around the 16th of October, not the 17th when the RCMP viciously raided the Warrior encampment.

On this we can say no more.

The other interesting aspect of these bail hearings is that the Crown is using all three possible grounds in order to justify detaining all six accused prior to sentencing.

Primary grounds refers to the possibility that an accused will attend court.

Secondary grounds refers to the protection or safety of the public.

The rarely used third grounds refers to maintaining confidence in the administration of justice. Defence lawyer Menard notes that this third grounds is most commonly reserved for crimes that “strike at the public's conscience.”

In any case, Menard was understandably surprised at the fact that on a day when the court was supposed to deal with three bail hearings, not even one was completed.

“Our system is based upon not punishing people prior to trial,” says Menard. “If you believe in that system, if you believe in the presumption of innocence and the importance of our Charter values, [then] we don't punish people pre-trial."

Menard also was quick to point out that while the Crown is at an advantage because it can create a narrative surrounding the events of an alleged crime (through press conferences where the RCMP put on display weapons and ammunition allegedly seized from their raid, for example), the public should maintain mental vigilance when analyzing such information through media who weren't at the scene of the arrests and often blindly re-hash police press releases.

“The narrative for the RCMP and the government is out there in the media,” says Menard. “They can give interviews and do press releases. [So] the average person probably has a settled view of what happened [in the RCMP's raid on October 17th]. That's not necessarily an accurate view.”

Bail hearings for the six incarcerated Mi'kmaq Warriors will most likely continue all week at the Moncton courthouse.

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508 words


My opinion ... they will not lose; here's why

The American oil company, Southwestern Energy (based in Houston, Texas) sent a subsidiary to New Brunswick to negotiate a deal with the provincial government for the extraction and sale (in the US) of natural gas locked in shale gas deposits in this province.

That subsidiary, SWN Resources Canada, made a big mistake in moving first into native occupied lands, believing that the natives who lived there had no power to resist, and believing that the native community would act like Americans:  obedient to authority, selfish, and greedy.

They would have been right, if the indigenous people here (the Mi'kmaq) were like their anglo neighbors. 

You hear the whites saying it:  "well, they broke they law when they burnt those cars." 

In other words:  I support the authorities, no matter what they do.  Even an armed attack on unarmed protestors.  That's total obedience to authority.

In their eyes, the natives were not obedient.  They refused to be submissive.  Weak.  Passive.  And therefore, their desires, their legal grounds, their rights ... none of that matter, now.
Is that logical?  it's obedience.
To the obedient, the Law is sacred.

To the Mi'kmaq, the law is not sacred.

The Mi'kmaq live by a code of honor that is far more than obedience to law. They speak of trust, honor, respect.  These things are what you hear the natives speak of; every day. It's part of the very way they live.

And it is a code of honour I share. I didn't choose on Saturday to be part of their fight.  I was already involved.  Like it or not.  And the Mi'kmaq all know, too, that their fight is part of a 500-year struggle against English/American colonialism.  They join revered ancestors when they fight.

I believe the Mi'kmaq have a very strong legal case (that is, under the law), but it is not the law that will ensure their victory.  It is something they possess that is far stronger; their culture (and the courage and unity it gives them) and their code of what constitutes moral behavior.

What can I do to help?

Treaty Rights and the right... (b) to be tried within ....

....a reasonable time. What? No Treaty Rights in Canadian Jails? Ever heard of the Aboriginal Food Guide? What healthy food choices will be made available to these brave First People, while awaiting their speedy bail hearing?

What is the official narrative for the Rexton Raid?

Defence lawyer Allison Menard said: “The narrative for the RCMP and the government is out there in the media.”

Which official narrative would the RCMP and the government want us to believe?

I've been scrambling to piece together what happened back there in Rexton from my vantage point 5000 km away in Calgary.

Here's the evolving "official story" from RCMP J Division about what happened at Rexton. Well, four different stories, actually. (1) RCMP J Division spokeswoman, Cst. Julie Rogers-Marsh, said just days before the October 17 raid on the camp that the temporary injunction against protesting is a civil matter; and it is not the RCMP's job to serve civil injunctions. (2) Then the RCMP said shortly after the raid that they went in to serve and enforce that injunction; the very injunction that a Court of Queen's Bench judge refused to extend after a hearing on October 18. (3) Then shortly after that, the RCMP said that a shot had been fired at them from the camp and that weapons, including IEDs, were found at the camp. (Ezra Levant and Sun Media ran with that, tagging people at the Rexton Camp as eco-terrorists.) Confused yet? Wait. (4) Then the RCMP official story changed yet again, to the RCMP having had to raid the camp because of reports of weapons there ,in order to prevent escalating violence.

My grave concern in all of this, in addition to whatever legal consequences will follow for the people who were charged with various offences, is how nobody in the mainstream media is picking up on these inconsistencies in the official narrative and calling out the police at command level on these inconsistencies.

Aren't there any curious people in Canadian mainstream news circles any more with the integrity and decency to ask the tough questions?


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