Man charged in the Aamjiwnaang blockade looks to turn tables on judge

By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
A man charged with defying a judge’s order to shutdown the Aamjiwnaang First Nation rail blockade in the throes of Idle No More movement is considering filing a complaint against the judge with the Canadian Judicial Council for alleged conflict of interest.

Justice David Brown issued two court injunctions against Aamjiwnaang in late December and another in a separate blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Jan. 5.

Both were at the request of CN Rail but the question at hand is whether Justice Brown should have been the one to sign the court injunctions.

Brown had served as a lawyer for CN when he was practicing law, as well as acted as a witness for CN in regulatory matters in the United States, as previously reported by APTN National News.

“I find it a matter of concern that warrants further investigation,” said Peter Rosenthal, one of several lawyers defending Ron Plain who is charged with contempt of court for defying Brown’s court orders in Aamjiwnaang.

Plain is scheduled to go to court May 24 on the contempt charge. Aamjiwnaang sits within the city limits of Sarnia.

No one else is charged for allegedly being part of the blockade that shutdown a CN spur line in Aamjiwnaang territory from Dec. 21 to Jan. 2.

Rosenthal didn’t want to get into what route they may take but said a complaint with the CJC, who investigates alleged impropriety of judges, is one avenue.

“I’m not sure how that is going to play out on May 24,” he said.

Rosenthal said he hasn’t been approached by Tyendinaga Mohawks to be part of any action against Justice Brown, who was appointed to the bench in 2006 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Norman Sabourin, executive director of CJC, said he couldn’t comment on a specific case but pointed out all judges were lawyers at one point.

“It’s not an usual occurrence. In terms of conflicts of interest there are two big factors. One of them is the passage of time and the second is the closeness of possible relationships,” said Sabourin in a recent interview APTN.

He said if it’s been many years since a judge has been a lawyer than the passage of time reduces appearance of conflict.

“For a party to go before the media and say ‘boy, I really think that judge didn’t act in my way’ well go raise it before the courts. That’s what the courts are there for. That is a legal issue that has to be addressed before the courts,” said Sabourin. “Essentially, conflict of interest issues are legal issues.”

He said if there is an allegation that a judge willfully failed to do their duty “than that is a very serious matter and it is something the (CJC) would review very seriously and very thoroughly.”

From the onset, Plain was offered a deal by CN to pay a $5,000 charitable donation. He refused.

“I’ll run this up the flag pole,” he said then.

Plain said he was offered another deal earlier this year that included him agreeing to never block another railway again.

He refused that one too.

There’s been other discussions but Plain is refusing to accept a plea agreement.

“Because that is still admitting I am in contempt. That is still admitting I did something wrong,” said Plain Thursday.

Plain the reason why he didn’t do anything wrong is simple. He was acting a spokesman for the blockade.

“In everything done on the blockade I am referred to as the spokesperson. I served a role. I liaised between different organizations and the media and the blockade. In every piece on it that is how I am referred,” he said and if the Sarnia chief of police, the mayor or even a reporter isn’t charged for serving “roles” than he shouldn’t be either.

Plain said his lawyers will call witnesses to confirm this.

In that, he thinks it can be easily defeated. But that leaves a question of what to do with Justice Brown.

Plain said he was never informed of Justice Brown’s past with CN.

“In this case, I don’t know if he let CN know he had this affiliation but he obviously didn’t let me know,” said Plain.

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1 thought on “Man charged in the Aamjiwnaang blockade looks to turn tables on judge

  1. mishkiikwe says:

    such a crook system

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