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Thursday, June 05, 2008

the case of ronald labelle.

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.

17 comments:

Jeff J. said...

We live in a time where people consider it okay to pie a Premier in the face as a form of protest. People think politicians are fair game for insults, negative comments and other forms of harassment. I, for one, am happy to see outcomes such as the one handed to Mr. Labelle. Threats have no place in a civilized community.

All I got out of that "other side of the story" column was the impression that the individual still believes he was justified in doing what he did because he did it for a "cause". I'm sorry, but that doesn't sit well with me.

Anonymous said...

Threats to politicians are as old as Rome. Labelle was in the wrong but Stelmach needs to grow a pair.

Anonymous said...

Daveberta, it's citizens, not citizen's. Very important.

tjk said...

Very very bitter commentary.

Jeff J. said...

"Stelmach needs to grow a pair"?

Yah, sure. Perhaps someone should call anonymous up on the phone and make a threat against them while having personal knowledge of where they live...I'm sure it'll just be accepted it because they have grown a pair.

wow. People need to grow UP.

daveberta said...

I agree with Jeff. You can disagree with someone on a political and policy level and that's fine, but once you bring someone's family or livelihood into the equation it becomes completely unacceptable.

Adam said...

jeff j. you bring up an interesting point about the way voters treat elected officials. This notion that politcians are owned by voters is terrible, and a negative attitude. These people work to run the government on our behalf, but that doesn't mean we have ownership over them.

Just something that's been on my mind for awhile

Brian LaBelle said...

I'm not justifying what my father did, it was definitely wrong and there needs to be a consequence.

For the people who believe you can't threaten a person's livelihood, isn't that what Stelmach did when he promised Union pipe and gas fitters he wouldn't send our bitumen to be refined in the U.S. and then pulled a 180 and sent the bitumen there along with all the oil and gas industry jobs those resources can provide to Albertans?

It's great that Judge LeReverand believes that politicians in Alberta must be made to feel safe. This is why the Alberta government paid a "special" prosecutor to fly up from Calgary and oversee the case for 9 months. I'm almost certain his time could have been invested in successfully prosecuting those responsible for the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of Nena Courtepatte, but why bother protecting ordinary Albertans from REAL threats, right?

I still can't get over the fact that Jennifer Dalmer-Hinse and Tom Olsen both believed that a punch in the nose from a 57 year old alcoholic had the potential to kill Ed Stelmach.

Brian LaBelle said...

I'm not justifying what my father said, it was definitely wrong and there needs to be a consequence. More time than a drunk driver who actually does go out and injure someone is apparently in order?

For the people who believe you can't threaten a person's livelihood, isn't that what Stelmach did when he promised Union pipe and gas fitters he wouldn't send our bitumen to be refined in the U.S. and then pulled a 180 and sent the bitumen there along with all the oil and gas industry jobs those resources represent? That’s a LOT of lost livelihood for Local Union 488 if you ask me?

It's great that Judge LeReverand believes that politicians (she did not say civil servants, ONLY politicians) in Alberta must be made to feel safe and this is why the Alberta government paid a "special" prosecutor to fly up from Calgary and oversee the case for 9 months. Of course, working with aggressive youth who have been apprehended from their parents by this government and placed in treatment homes, I’m definitely not entitled to police protection when my life or property is threatened and in some cases destroyed but I guess since I’m not a Tory, I haven’t developed that sense of entitlement at Albertans expense yet?

I still can't get over the fact that Jennifer Dalmer-Hinse and Tom Olsen both believed that a punch in the nose from a 57 year old alcoholic had the potential to kill Ed Stelmach. I don’t doubt it but to have Tom Olsen confirm it…

Xpat said...

It's clear that Mr. Labelle's threats were purely metaphorical, but it's hardly surprising that our justice system knows no subtlety in these matters.

What's important here, what is really notable about this incident, is that it makes it clear that Albertans feel powerless. We have no say; we cannot un-elect this party. Many, if not most Albertans want to "pop him" and his cronies out of office! But we can't, and it's maddening.

Nevertheless, the answer is not to threaten the Premier or his party, but to make the threats to our province known to all Albertans.

Marnie Tunay said...

I don't agree at all with what Mr. Labelle did, but I really appreci-ate hearing his side of the story - it's a good reminder that there are always two sides to a story. I really appreciate your fairness in giving him a chance to tell his side, when no one else did, know-ing as you must have, that you yourself would end up getting some negative reactions for doing so.

Justin said...

I commend you for posting this Dave. Labelle may have been wrong, but it's still important to air his side of the story.

Most of the time, one lone citizen doesn't stand a chance against the tory spin machine; it was good of you to give him a platform.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Dave.

Jeff J. said...

"I still can't get over the fact that Jennifer Dalmer-Hinse and Tom Olsen both believed that a punch in the nose from a 57 year old alcoholic had the potential to kill Ed Stelmach."

Be very very very careful here Mr. Labelle, I have personally witnessed an individual get punched in the face and immediately drop to the ground lifeless. Believe me, it is something I hope you never ever have to witness in your lifetime, let alone experience on either side of such an event.

Politicians SHOULD be held to account, they should be questioned, and they should be informed by individuals who don't agree with their decisions. However, the way to do that is NOT to threaten violence. Stand up for what you believe in, question everything you disagree with, and never be afraid to ask "why" or "why not". But to threaten anyone is going to far.

No matter what you believe, you cannot honestly tell me that Premier Stelmach wakes up in the morning with the intention to "threaten" Albertans livelihood. I do not agree with many of the actions taken by our government, but I firmly believe that they are not making decisions to harm people.

It is not only our right to question our elected officials, it is our DUTY. Individuals should always hold our leaders to a higher standard, so shouldn't we at least attempt to hold ourselves to the same higher standard?

I, one day hope to have the honour and privilege to represnt Albertans in office, and I expect to be questioned voraciously about my beliefs and reasons for making my decisions, but if anyone ever even slightly went as far as to threaten the people in my life who mean everything to me, then I can honestly tell you that no special prosecutor, no media relations individuals, and no amount of cooling-off would alleviate my personal anger to the individual who uttered such words.

Dsve, thank you for bringing this issue forward, i may not agree with alot of what you believe, but i sure believe that you should feel safe in expressing and looking for further your beliefs.

Jeff J. said...

Adam, good point, and I agree 100%. And I would expand your comment to say that it seems that some people take this to an extreme on all fronts. The worst example I can come up with was how Dwayne Roloson's (Oilers goalie) son was teased to tears repeatedly in school because his father didn't play very well for the Oilers...can you imagine being a Premier's son? Should politician's now have to consider their families' safety before making a decision to run for office? Are our wives and family members now involved and affect by our decisions?

Brian LaBelle said...

"I have personally witnessed an individual get punched in the face and immediately drop to the ground lifeless."

I don't doubt that at all, but I think if we were to take a poll of all the single punches thrown throughout recorded history that have resulted in human death, we would likely find that the vast majority have not.

"you cannot honestly tell me that Premier Stelmach wakes up in the morning with the intention to "threaten" Albertans livelihood."

Probably not. But on September 12, 2007 he had Iris Evans threaten them for him. So that morning, he did wake up with that intention. Nobody likes being told "Go to work for us, or go to jail."

Brian LaBelle said...

Here's an interesting little article I found courtesy of Daveberta's archives -

http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2007/06/11/4251171-sun.html

"According to reports, [Henninger] told a constituent at the door he would like to "choke" Stelmach. The premier said that kind of enthusiasm is exactly what he wants in his MLAs."

Clearly, it’s not the kind of enthusiasm he wants from voters though. Henninger is lucky he didn't say this close to September 11.