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dda • 3 years ago

I'm so sorry, Jessica. Unfortunately, you're right about the 'system'. You were out monied, out lawyered, and defeated by attrition. They can surely outlast you in our "courts".
But - please don't see this as a total defeat. You and Andrew have been able to eloquently and effectively inform those of 'us' who care of the stark and brutally unfair and unhealthy actions of the fracking industry. World wide. You've planted the seeds - watch them grow. I hope you find some peace and satisfaction in the work you've put in - for the greater good. Thank you.

F.Cameron • 3 years ago

Well put !

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

Well said dda. Those seeds are growing around the world ...

"The former oil-patch consultant went on gruelling speaking tours organized by community groups in Ireland, England, New York, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Newfoundland to inform citizens about the realities of fracking. Almost every jurisdiction she visited ended up banning fracking or putting a moratorium on the highly disruptive technology."

Thank you Jessica!

PS • 3 years ago

"I thought it was simply no longer viable for us to represent her going forward.”
how well put and thought out conniving observation, by a lawyer no less. it is what it is, us and them, the sad history we have thought to move/evolve on into democracy is repeating itself. now what? right? stay strong...

John Otvos • 3 years ago

There is no true democracy as long as corporations hold the upper hand. As Chris Hedges has stated on many an occasion: "Unless we overthrow them [the sociopathic corporate elite] they will kill us all." And so continues the 6th mass extinction...

phodgson • 3 years ago

I couldn't agree more with Mrs.Ernst and her opinion on the Canadian legal system, shame.

PS • 3 years ago

money talks, conflict of interests, and money talks while democracy listens and learns that you pay until you can't. sad, yes. despicable. yes. corrupt. yes. demoralizing. yes. legal? no, but.....
it really is not issue of necessity and provision of service for social betterment as much as moral issue and despicable denial of accountability.
i rest my case but would not call anyone "your honour/honor" in a legal system that defies such atrocities.

ZweiSystem • 3 years ago

If anyone thinks Canadian courts are impartial, think again. In the end, the courts will do what government tells them to do.

Canadian law is law only for the rich and powerful.

Steve • 3 years ago

Agreed, but it is fairly common for all nation states to have legal systems that serve and bolster the top of the social power structure that exists, and Canada is not unique in this regard.

Note what Murray Rothbard writes in Anatomy of the State (a short text I would highly recommend): "For while the seeming independence of the federal judiciary has played a vital part in making its actions virtual Holy Writ for the bulk of the people, it is also and ever true that the judiciary is part and parcel of the government apparatus and appointed by the executive and legislative branches...this means that the State has set itself up as a judge in its own cause, thus violating a basic juridical principle for aiming at just decisions."

The foxes are in charge of every henhouse and have set themselves up as judge, jury, and executioner, everywhere. As I have argued many times on this site, the ruling class has a primary motivation to control and expand the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. All other concerns are secondary/tertiary and mostly serve to support their primary concern.

We are led to believe through powerful and ever-present narratives and propaganda that government and its increasingly-expanding (and expensive) bureaucracies are a social good that serves the masses. It is one of many myths that exist in our world, with virtually all of them serving the interests of those at the top of our power structures. All large, complex societies seem to gravitate towards this type of sociopolitical system. It is rare indeed for a system to not fall prey to the depravity of the wealthy and powerful who primarily wish to maintain and/or expand their privileged positions.

ZweiSystem • 3 years ago

All I can say is Canadian justice has been so bureaucratized, so debased by politicians, only the very wealthy are served.

The myth of the independent judge is long gone as many important decisions are made not reading law texts but over a 'brandy" at ones private club.

Today, judges like to be seen as impartial, champions of justice, but instead they are very partial and champions of title and wealth.

Not much has changed in over a 1,000 years.

puppyg • 3 years ago

"... with virtually all of them serving the interests of those at the top of our power structures"

Case in point - Jason Kenney in madame's service:




WWallace Mud • 3 years ago

i agree, but IMO you forgot to mention that the corporations control the government which in turn makes the laws that the courts in turn carry out.

puppyg • 3 years ago

"... only for the rich and powerful"

And it is human nature that officials at every level will, as they say, 'go along to get along'. Their compliance and allegiance come from a need to feel secure, to believe that "at least I'm still okay". The resulting status quo is a house of cards that, to bring it down, takes a revolution.

Jeffrey Simpson • 3 years ago

I think the government does what big corporations tell them to do.

NN • 3 years ago

Yes, the system is crooked, but it's ridiculous to suggest that governments have any influence on judges.

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

I don't think it's ridiculous at all.

From the above article:

"The lawsuit set off a battle royale in a province whose economy and politics are tied to the oil and gas industry. Since 1999, for example, members of a highly secretive committee choosing judges for Alberta’s provincial courts either had ties to the Tories or the oil patch or both, according to Kevin Taft’s book Oil’s Deep State."


And this is pretty special. Chosen friends in chosen places?

March 8, 2011, Mountain View Gazette - "June verdict for man charged with threatening Fish and Wildlife officer

... On the tape the accused can be heard to say: 'Anytime you want to bring your old lady over here I'll service her, you (expletive). Get the (expletive) off my property.'

Also on the tape the accused can be heard saying: 'I'm going to manhandle this guy in about a minute.'

... Jason Nixon 30, will be back in court June 13 for Judge Graham's verdict."

pbs dot twimg dot com/medi/D1_1RjzXcAAWemi dot png

Here's the tape ... not.

April 17, 2019 - "Judge bans media access to video of confrontation between MLA Jason Nixon and wildlife officer

A provincial judge has ruled that video evidence from an old trial, showing a confrontation between UCP MLA Jason Nixon and an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer, cannot be released to the media.

The video footage was originally played at Nixon's 2011 trial into obstruction of justice and threatening the officer. He was found not guilty on both counts.

In making her decision, Judge Marlene Graham cited the Youth Criminal Justice Act as the reason for withholding the tape, due to the involvement of a young person in the incident.

But the judge spent much of her time talking about the possible impact on Nixon's reputation.

Graham noted that Nixon was re-elected as an MLA on Tuesday and that he held a position of power within the UCP while in opposition.

'The risk of harm and prejudice to Mr. Nixon outweighs any interest that the public might have in seeing this DVD,' she told court.

Graham herself was a Progressive Conservative MLA from 1997 to 2004 in the riding of Calgary-Lougheed, the current riding of UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

It's the latest step in a legal battle that has played out for more than a year.

The video in question is of a conversation between Nixon and wildlife officer Adam Mirus.

A dashcam on Mirus's vehicle caught the ensuing conversation — that's the recording Nixon doesn't want released."


Nixon is currently Alberta's Environment Minister.

anne cameron • 3 years ago

You didn't "lose", Jess. You've won the respect and admiration of many people. Sometimes Goliath and his army of arstles appears to have come out on top but he.. and they.. have to live with each other, and you don't.
Ya done good, my friend. Ya done real good!

Kiskatinawkid • 3 years ago

This whole sordid affair should serve as a warning to rural residents in northeastern BC thanks to Horgan's sellout to LNG. The damage has been going on for years, but is going to get exponentially worse once (if) these LNG plants come on line.
Sell the farm now while it still has some value.

political ranger • 3 years ago

Throughout all the sturm and drang this horrific story of despicable characters creates, let's not forget one thing; it was and is the Alberta gov't that was responsible for all this. Gov't ministers and gov't employees.
Charlatans like Lorne Taylor, past Minister of Environment and Dan MacLennan, former head of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees both contributed to this farce; neither could believe that things should or could be any different. That's just the way it was!

Let's not get off on to a tangent like the state and responsiveness of the legal system, no matter how important that is. It's not what this story is about.
This is about a corrupt government robbing and cheating citizens directly and through the use of it's corporate proxies. The government is Alberta and the Albertans it employs. Let's not lose sight of that. It' still going on!

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

"Let's not get off on to a tangent like the state and responsiveness of the legal system, no matter how important that is. It's not what this story is about."

I disagree with this Ranger. I think Ernst has inadvertently exposed not only the corrupt bottom feeders, but also the sharks just beneath the surface - and the rest of the slime in between. A frickin' eye-opener to say the least, and critical for people to know how populated this ocean of corrupt frac filth really is.

political ranger • 3 years ago

I think that's just what I was saying.
This fricken corrupt frac filth of human slime and petro-corp sharks is the Alberta gov't.
That is what's worth knowing.

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

It's all worth knowing Ranger, as bile-inducing as it is.

kouroi • 3 years ago

Are you saying that the Supreme Court and the 5 judges in majority there are not just asses defending the big corporations of penalties caused by their wrong doing?

ScottyonDenman • 3 years ago

THANK YOU, JESSICA ERNST. You opened the public eye to fracking’s harm. Your story resonates with so many, your courage is an inspiration, and your work is invaluable.

ReynoldR • 3 years ago

We have a legal system that prioritizes corporate greed above the charter rights of people. How Sad. Time for a serious discussion about dismantling capitalism and building back better.

man of aran • 3 years ago

dismantling capitalism is a discussion, but careful with the slogans. 'build back better' comes from the very corporate elite you wish to dismantle.

Graham • 3 years ago

Disappointing to say the least. And they still continue the practice of fracking. It should have been stopped immediately after having been proven to poison underground water.
This whole story reminds me of civil rights cases. Where roadblock after roadblock is set in ones way, where rules and laws are twisted to ill purposes, facts are dismissed and governments of all levels work against its people.
I don’t understand.
In this case, through government and regulators, we have allowed industry to spoil the landscape and libel anyone who points it out. For money, jobs, appointments on boards, taxes, and because it spoils our vision of ourselves.
The courts and the regulators should not and cannot have its feelings hurt, they should not take offence to persistence and determination. They should consider the greater good and not just corporate or regulatory wellbeing.
While this case has been allowed to die I think it has brought much to light and in doing so, hopefully, will make it much more difficult to get away with this again. I hope it will bring about positive change.

Clearcut Acres • 3 years ago

This makes me sad and angry. I salute you, Jessica Ernst. You are a person of courage, conviction, and integrity, and you were attacked and vilified for it. You have earned the respect and admiration of may people who try to do what you did so courageously. My best wishes go to you. If there is still a place where one can contribute to help with your costs, I'll give something again.

John Merriman • 3 years ago

Well expressed. I heartily agree.

Sarah • 3 years ago

This case totally sullies the Alberta government, the oil industry, the lawyers involved and the Canadian Supreme Court. Innocent landowners' rights were abused by the lot of them. All of these powerful factions of our society clearly only care about their bottom line, profits and money. This whole situation reminds me of the Erin Erin Brockovich fight in California, but Alberta has proven themselves even worse since Jessica didn't win her case. So much for real justice.

I had a brush with lawyers when my marriage broke down. It totally amazed me how little was accomplished while $ thousands were vacuumed up by her. Then after being scammed by two companies over the last decade, first I used the Small Claims Court process, that took up a couple of years. But I won! Then last year, a company tried to illegally confiscate my car, intending to sell it from under me. I then found out about the online Civil Resolution Tribunal. This was much speedier and less costly, and I won there too. In both cases, I did not hire any lawyers. Way too expensive and seemingly a way for them to print money for themselves.

I wouldn't ever want to live in the USA, but I would choose the USA over Alberta. Fortunately, I don't have to choose since I live in the lovely Lower Mainland of BC. I am totally disgusted by what has happened. I have an abundance of respect for Jessica Ernst and what she has done to illustrate how everything is rigged against the common person in Alberta and even our country, when matters concern Big Oil.

allan • 3 years ago

The "regulator" ought to be officially referred to as "the fixer".

JCensored • 3 years ago

They should make a movie about it and get the story out there for the public... we certainly can't rely on postmedia, global, or cbc to do it.

Ralph Haygood • 3 years ago

Dirty systems ultimately amount to evil people making evil choices. Yes, I said "evil people": evil is as evil does. Over and over again, the people to blame for this atrocity, from executives to (captured) regulators to lawyers, did things that undoubtedly were within their abilities to recognize were wrong, such as telling lies about the environmental impacts of fracking or the character of Ms. Ernst. If they had vestiges of conscience, they suppressed them and "went along to get along". It's especially inexcusable of highly paid lawyers and officials, who easily could (or should be able to) afford to retire rather than contribute to such a perversion of justice.

Remember Adolf Eichmann's excuse, that he was just an "unlucky" participant in a bad system? The court that tried and convicted him wasn't impressed by that excuse.

JuHoansi • 3 years ago

Note to self: If I'm ever in a similar situation, never hire Klippenstein as my lawyer.

Regan911 • 3 years ago

There are few things I’m proud of as a native Albertan these days, but Jessica Ernst and Andrew Nikaforuk are two people that I’m happy to have represent us. I’m sorry the outcome of this case did not serve the justice it was due.

Diane • 3 years ago

Very sad news indeed. What a sham of a legal system we have, eh? I've followed your story, Jessica, from the horrible beginning. What Encana and the corporate buddy system did to your land was simply unGodly.

John Merriman • 3 years ago

Unfortunately, it's many of the Godly who believe that man shall have dominion over the Earth and trash it any way he likes.

Saz-C • 3 years ago

Wow thanks for this piece -- so important to credit those who (like heroic Jessica Ernst) have the conviction & means to oppose egregious harms inflicted not only on themselves, but on whole communities too..
I feel Jessica's "incalculable grief and anger" over her obvious case of, "industry’s abuse of power".. What i DON'T get is, how she was said to have "no evidence" when testing could definitively prove contamination of a public water supply!!? How could Ms. Ernst be anything but a victim from a legal standpoint, when in all respects she presents as a credible - even benevolent - citizen with a strong case?

What's infuriating is the apparent acceptance of our 'status quo' as a corrupt propaganda machine/ overlord we the peasants are powerless to oppose (!?) So it's best to roll over & ACCEPT injustices/ wrongs committed by polluting fossil-fuel giants - in a climate emergency - because they're rich & powerful??

(they'd laugh in the U,S,, where cases against REAL "eco-terrorists" - i.e. chronic polluters like Pfizer, who've paid out court-ordered billion$+ over the years -- are brought & won every day:))

Yet Canada's a democracy, last checked -- iE. governed by "public servants" who make/ amend laws meant to protect OUR best interests (& not the bottom lines of wealthy corps whose ethics DON'T SYNC with 21st-C. global aspirations/ standards!?)

We need to demand much better from our govts, EG. ACCOUNTABILITY for plans/ policies promised -- eg. SHAMe Premier Horgan for breaking his promise to save BC's last intact Old-Growth forests from certain extinction by logging, a sinister FAIL that got him elected but spells disaster for BC - else our future looks bleak, with court judgements still based on archaic laws that favour extractive ECOCIDE over Climate Action - something our failing ecosystems CAN'T afford..

It's 2021 - access to clean water is deemed a 'universal right' -- let's UPGRADE NOW.. or elect (greener) govts that WILL, before it's too late?

Roy Brander • 3 years ago

A little shocking that Nikiforuk didn't grab this story; he's been following this stuff since he actually (kind of) supported the otherwise-execrable Wiebo Ludwig, just because Ludwig's opponents (big oil) were also terrible.

A since-college friend of mine, Fiona Lauridsen, from near Standard, fought a similar battle, though just in public opinion, not courts; she was the subject of a CBC documentary at one point. The outcome was the same, but far less expensive and frustrating, for Fiona. It's the court-system that was the bad move, alas. Not where you'll get justice on this kind of problem.

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

Nikiforuk has written about Lauridsen, including in his award-winning book Slick Water.

Robert Cox • 3 years ago

Quebec is planning a constitutional challenge to create a "nation" within a nation. Millions for legal fees to protect OUR constitution?? Welcome to the Napoleonic Empire of Trois Pistoles.

Rena • 3 years ago

BIG Thank you to Tyee and Andrew Nikiforuk for the tremendous article about JESSICA ERNST. Without your coverage, most people would never know about the sacrifices Jessica has made for us all. She's a true modern day heroine that we should honor and show appreciation for.
She should be nominated for the Order of Canada Award or something along that line. https://www.gg.ca/en/honour...

Jeffrey Simpson • 3 years ago

Wow! What a sad ending to a story I have been following since it began. However, I think that the public is on her side and the dangers of fracking are becoming well known. Little good that does her now. The part about the fresh water pipeline having to be funded by the taxpayer just made me angry.

annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

"The part about the fresh water pipeline having to be funded by the taxpayer just made me angry."

Well, Encana changed their name and moved to the states, so taxpayer funded it is. Corporate welfare is king in Alberta.

puppyg • 3 years ago

I am thinking that the only way to win a lone crusade for justice like this one is to keep evolving. If the campaign becomes a stationary target, the forces of capitalist-corporate evil will eventually find a way to penetrate any defense. It is sad to have to solicit big-money supporters to have any hope of winning justice simply because our governments cannot step up and do the right thing, but if that's what it takes, do it.

Mindcraft • 3 years ago

The land will be toxic, and still those who claim to serve us, will also enjoy the fruits of toxicity in the food they dine and the wine they savour.
There is no escape, if one looks at the planet and its scale, the total freshwater on the planet is smaller than a grain of rice on a football.
Our leaders love to trot out patriarchy, yet forget they are responsible for governing a life based planet, not making a killing from a dead chemical based investment that doesn’t support living mass.
Of course staying home ends the spread of a cold virus, yet politics can’t even understand this simple event of physics, yet continues to be exotic super spreaders that need expensive vaccines, above common sense.
There is however no vaccine to clean water on the scale that it is being polluted, this is thermodynamics v linear endless growth and the waste to profit ratio in Titanic proportions to be competitive.
Our governing process can be laughed at as an unsinkable ship, stronger than common sense.

Guest • 3 years ago
annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

Yeah, what is he hiding? I'd like to know.

Guest • 3 years ago
annie_fiftyseven • 3 years ago

"I would like to know where and when the energy regulator called her an ECO Terrorist ?!?"

Stunning eh? Although the regulator's slanderous slur didn't start out as "eco-terrorist." First, they labelled Ernst a 'criminal threat,' but then they got caught, on tape, admitting that was a total lie:

"A transcript of a taped conversation with an ERCB lawyer read and heard by this reporter seems to contradict the contents of this ERCB brief. In 2006 a board lawyer admitted to Ernst and a witness that the agency had no real safety concerns with Ernst, but disliked her public criticism of the board because it had become 'humiliating.'"

So what would any industry-funded regulator do when confronted with a humiliating situation of their own making? Why, slap-on a bogus "eco-terrorist" label, of course.

"December 2012: In its legal brief filed with the court, the energy regulator changes its 2005 accusation that Ernst posed a 'criminal threat' and described her as being an 'eco-terrorist.'

.... Sept. 19, 2013: Justice Wittmann, despite not having presided over the original hearing, rules Ernst has a valid Charter of Rights and Freedoms claim but that the regulator is protected by legislation giving it immunity from civil litigation. He dismisses the regulator’s claim that Ernst is an 'eco-terrorist' due to 'the total absence of evidence.'"

But the dirty, sleazy label fun doesn't stop there, it just gets dirtier, sleazier and more sinister - at the Supreme Court of Canada:

"One judge, Rosalie Abella, said a regulator found Ernst a 'vexatious litigant.' There is no record of any regulator using that term for Ernst. Four of the judges wrote that they saw no basis for that denigrating characterization now entered into the legal record.

Ernst subsequently discovered that the Supreme Court of Canada seemingly has no mechanism to correct false and seriously damaging statements made in its rulings."

Really odd to me that Abella doesn't even attempt to use the regulator's actual filthy, bogus labels; "criminal threat" and "eco-terrorist." Instead, she pulls a totally new bogus and defamatory label out of her ass, puts it into the regulator's mouth, and labels Ernst as a "vexatious litigant."

I expect that kind of filth from an industry-funded good old boys club, but for the life of me I cannot fathom why a judge on Canada's Supreme Court would make up even more filth - and be able to get away with it.