| Mar 20, 2008

Feature Article - March 20, 2008

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Feature Article - March 20, 2008 New contempt charges laid in Robertsville disputeBy Jeff Green

Frank Morrison Speaking out against uranium, at a rally in front of Kingston's County Courthouse, March 18.

Just as old contempt of court charges were being withdrawn, new charges were being laid as the continuing Frontenac Ventures Court case took over the Frontenac County court house in Kingston for a one-day hearing on March 18.

The drama began the evening before when five people were served summonses by the OPP in their homes and ordered to appear in court.

The five people had all been on the roadside at Hwy. 509 on the previous day. One or two of them are alleged to have mounted what the lawyer for the OPP, Chris Diana, called a “small protest”, while others among them were trying to determine how far away from the Robertsville gate in each direction the 200 metre mark is.

A court injunction from September 27, 2007 prohibits certain activities, particularly impeding workers from Frontenac Ventures Corporation, within 200 metres of the gate at the Robertsville mine.

The five people include Sulyn Cedar, Sheila MacDonald, Oskar Graf, Beth Robertson, and Eileen Kinley.

Neal Smitheman, the lawyer for Frontenac Ventures, told the court that he had just heard about the charges on the morning of the hearing, and did not have any details. The OPP will forward the details to Mr. Smitheman and the five people will return to court on June 2 for a hearing.

Earlier in the day, charges against John Hudson and Frank Morrison, which stemmed from alleged breaches they had committed in September, were withdrawn by Frontenac Ventures Corporation. Charges against David Milne, a member of the Christian Peacemakers Team, were withdrawn as well, although in his case the company demanded that he enter into an undertaking not to commit any further activities at the Robertsville site. Milne had admitted to the court at a hearing last month that he had been at the site 13 times in September and early October, an admission the other two men had never made.

The company also did not seek fines against Shabot Obaadjiwaan Chief Doreen Davis and Elder Earl Badour, who had entered into undertakings to commit no further breaches back in February. However, the matter of court costs remains to be determined.

Of the original eight people charged in the case back in October 2007, seven have now had their charges withdrawn. The eighth, Bob Lovelace, is one month into a six-month jail sentence for contempt.

Judge Cunningham reiterated in court that Lovelace can end his incarceration at any time if he agrees to stay away from the mine site.

Chris Reid, the lawyer for Lovelace and other members of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, of which Lovelace is a former chief and spokesperson, filed an appeal late last week to the six-month sentence and $25,000 fine Lovelace is subject to, and to the fine of $15,000 against Ardoch Co-Chief Paula Sherman and $10,000 that the band itself has been fined.

Reid’s notice of appeal included nine items listed as Grounds for Appeal. Among them were assertions that: Judge Cunningham failed to consider mitigating factors; that the judge erred in “assuming that the principle of general deterrence could only be satisfied by the maximum sentencing;” and “that both the period of incarceration and the amount of fine are overly harsh in the circumstances.”

Christopher Reid has had a busy week. Six of his clients in another mining exploration dispute, this one centered on Big Trout Lake in Northwestern Ontario, received six-month sentences for contempt of court on Monday in Thunder Bay.

Before the hearing began at 2 pm, a rally was held outside the courthouse which drew around 200 people, and the court room was completely filled during the two-hour hearing.

Bob Lovelace had been expected in the court to face a second contempt charge stemming from incidents in early February, but it appears that no one informed the prison system that he was required, so that proceeding was postponed until June 2.

Earl Badour and Doreen Davis, also charged in relation to a road blocking incident in February, had their charges withdrawn.

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