The Liberal government versus Betty Krawczyk

I received an interesting call and subsequent email from the Criminal Justice Branch of the BC government yesterday regarding my blog “Police State Watch?” Neil Mackenzie, Communications Counsel for the branch, was objecting to the content of the blog because, he said, the Attorney General had never intended to ask for an increase in the sentence handed down to Betty Krawczyk.

My blog – and other efforts to expose the issue – resulted, according to Mackenzie, “…in abuse being directed at the prosecutor with conduct of the case, and unwarranted attacks on his professionalism.”

He added:

“The Crown has also not equated the facts of Ms. Krawcyk’s case with cases involving sexual offenders.  While making submissions to a Court the Crown may refer to cases for the legal principles they set out.  That does not mean that the Crown equates the background facts of those cases with the case before the Court.  In the context of Ms Krawczyk’s appeal, the Crown is not analogizing acts of civil disobedience with sexual offences.”

The sentence in question has, in fact, already been served, (the case involved the destruction of West Vancouver’s Eagleridge Bluffs in widening the Sea to Sky highway) but Krawczyk wanted to make the point that in sentencing her, the judge erred in law (S. 787 of the Criminal Code) by sentencing her to ten months when the law says six months is the maximum for anyone convicted under the summary process used in her trial.

While it is true that the AG’s department was not actively seeking an increase in the sentence the material cited in the blog and in the action alert was indeed part of the crown’s submission to the court.  According to Ms Krawczyk:

“Mr. Brundrett, [the prosecutor] in his reply to the Court while he simply asked for my appeal to be quashed also submitted to the Court that in the event the Court decided to change the sentence that it should be elevated upward.  And to guide the Court in their thinking on the matter submitted two cases Mr Brundrett thought were similar and should be applied to me.  Both were violent repeated pedophiles who attacked their own children.”

Were there no other cases Mr. Brundrett could have cited to highlight “legal principles”? Mr MacKenzie claims the two cases are often used in sentence appeal situations.

Betty Krawczyk pointed out in an email to me that Mr. Brundrett, in the sentencing part of his submission, “underscored” the life sentence possibility. She summarized the effect of the crown’s submission:

“The Attorney General has accomplished two things; first, equated my repeated infractions of the law in defence of the environment for future generations to the diseased minds of pedophiles who rape their very young children …and invited the Court to consider because I am a repeat offender that I should also be declared a dangerous offender and possibly be put away for life.”

I have no comment on Mr. Brundrett’s professionalism. But the crown’s submission strikes me as highly political. It also seems obvious that the prosecutor and the AG’s department should have known that in reading the crown’s submission to the court before trial, Ms Krawczyk and her supporters reasonably assumed that the government might indeed press for an increase in the sentence. If not, why include the material at all?

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