At the end of May 2008 Ronald Labelle was sentenced to four months in jail after being convicted on 31 counts, three for uttering threats towards Premier Ed Stelmach, his cows, and his property, and 28 for unauthorized possession and improper storage of firearms.
Now, citizen's shouldn't hesitate to pick up the phone and call their elected representatives, but I would suggest that doing it after a couple drinks, as was Labelle's case, probably won't get you the results you're looking for. Yesterday, I received an email from Brian Labelle, son of Ronald Labelle, asking if I would publish his father's side of the story. As someone who fully understands the media/spin storm that can envelope around unique situations such as this, I believe that allowing citizens to publicly present their case is an important part of living in a democratic society. Here's Labelle's statement:
Today I appear in court for sentencing to be held accountable for the statements which I was guilty of and admitted to making.
Charge #3 – Uttering threats against farm property.
When he was running for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative party, in an effort to appease oil industry workers and make any kind of statement that could win him an election regardless of the truthfulness of that statement, the "honorable" Ed Stelmach stated that sending our raw bitumen to the United States for refining was akin to stripping the top-soil off of Alberta's farm and trucking it down there for the U.S. to use. That would lead the average Albertan voter in rural, and even urban areas, to believe that sending our raw bitumen to the United States was something the Stelmach government was not interested in doing. However, once the leadership race was over, our bitumen was sent South.
I incorrectly assumed that the Premier's earlier statement about sending our top-soil along with our bitumen was true. I also incorrectly assumed that as the leader of this province, Mr. Stelmach would want to be the first farmer to set a good example for others and therefore be the first to send his own top-soil South of the border because, as he said in his own words, it made as much sense as sending our bitumen. I graciously offered to come to his farm and assist him with that endeavor and again, I was wrong. It appears Ed Stelmach is not nearly as interested in giving away his own resources for pennies on the dollar as he is in giving away the resources that belong to the tax-paying citizens of Alberta.
Charge #2 – Uttering threats to farm animals.
As I stated on September 7, 2007 – Somebody should shoot his cows and livelihood right down the pipeline to the United States in the exact same fashion that he is sending perfectly good jobs down the pipeline. A glaring, documented example of that being the Keystone pipeline. Again, during his bid for leadership in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, the Premier feigned a great interest in the plight of the construction industry. He pretended to be worried about what would happen if he slowed down projects and how that could negatively impact Alberta's construction workers. The same concern for Alberta's labor force was not displayed after he won that leadership election. On September 12, 2007, then Labor Minister Iris Evans threatened Union Laborers with a "Go back to work or go to jail" order. It seems being responsible for 20 million more tonnes of carbon emissions than Ontario, a province four times the size of ours, is just not good enough for the Stelmach government and they believe we need even MORE carbon in our air to PROVE that not only are we the richest province in the land, we're also the best at contributing to acid rain and the destruction of the environment.
I believe it is important to mention that I have been found guilty and will be held accountable for the threats I made, but as of this date, Iris Evans has not been arrested or even charged for uttering threats of jail time against the construction workers of this province for their refusal to work for what they believed to be unfair wages, paid by oil companies operating in this province who are currently making profits as high as twelve hundred dollars per SECOND, on the back of their labor and are highly subsidized by the government to do so.
Charge #1 – Uttering a threat to harm the Premier
I said "Somebody should pop him", right in the nose. I admitted that I said it when the police came to my door. I admitted to saying it again during a videotaped interrogation. And I admit here again that I said it. I apologize to everyone reading this that it isn't quite as sexy as the "death threat" the Premier's secretary, Jennifer Dalmer-Hinse, allegedly received and was widely reported on, on the day of September 11th. This apparently necessitated the "Special" prosecutor from Calgary, Mr. Shane Clark, to fly up to Edmonton at the expense of the Alberta taxpayer so that he could assure the media that as the "Special" prosecutor, he was making sure that no "special" attention was being given to the case because the Premier was involved.
I would like to remind all Alberta voters that I made the phone call and was arrested on September 7, 2007. I am unsure as to why the Premier's spokesperson, Tom Olsen, waited a full FIVE days to announce the alleged "death threat" against the Premier (a process that according to an Edmonton Journal legal affairs writer, is normally handled by the spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service) but I imagine it was a much better, more sympathetic story for the government on September 11, 2007 than it would have been on the day, the day after, or even three days after the incident allegedly took place. Not only was Tom Olsen's statement regarding the alleged "death threat" completely fabricated, the timing of the announcement from the Premier's office appears to have been deliberately made to play to the 9/11 invoked fears of Albertans or else it was purposely delayed until the day before this government threatened laborers to return to work or be jailed as another means of intimidation. Either way, this province used me and manipulated the media to create a sensational headline that wasn't true and cast the Alberta government in a more positive/sympathetic light during a time prior to the election when they weren't doing very well in the polls. The tactics of the current provincial administration when using the media need to be carefully scrutinized by all Albertans at all times.
I also question why members of the media did not stop to question why the Premier's office was giving them a week-old story to run but many were likely too blinded by the date they got their information on and interested in breaking their own "terrorist" story as a result of it. A simple phone call to the Police would have confirmed that the Premier received "Bizarre threats" to "harm" the Premier which "made little to no sense" (according to the Judge) but there was NO death threat. My family and I were definitely threatened with incarceration by Iris Evans, as were the wives, husbands and children of all of Alberta's laborers, but because she works for the government and was authorized by this province to make those threats, there is nothing any laborer can do about it but continue to make sure there is oil for those companies to gouge us on at the pump, and profit to pump into Stelmach's re-election campaign or… we can go to jail for striking illegally.
I apologize to Ed Stelmach and his family if my phone call on September 7, 2007 caused any undue stress or hardship on them. I understand from watching the news that he and his family were "shaken" by the statements listed above and for that, I am sorry.