Case against Muskrat Falls protesters once again delayed

Bonnie Learning
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Nunatuavut members court case set over until September

Nunatuavut elder James (Jim) Learning (foreground) and Ken Mesher, await their turn in provincial court on Wednesday, May 20. The two men are charged — along with seven others — in connection with a protest at the Muskrat Falls site in April 2013.

Court proceedings against nine Nunatuavut members has been set over — yet again — until Sept. 9.

Eight of the nine appeared in provincial court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Wednesday, May 21 (one was out of town), only to have the case postponed until the fall.

It wasn't entirely unexpected, as legal aid solicitor Jennifer Madore — working as duty counsel in court — conferred with the defendants prior to going into court, as to what date might work for them.

The date was set over in part because Nunatuavut is still awaiting word from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal as to the validity of the injunction imposed on the members at the Muskrat Falls site, where the charges stem from, after a protest there April 5.

“This was a total waste of time,” Marjorie Flowers said after the court appearance. She is one of the nine Nunatuavut members charged.

“Having said that, I still stand by my actions by protesting (on April 5, 2013) and I would do it again.”

Flowers said although she doesn't quite grasp the whole court process with its numerous delays, she feels she and the others did nothing wrong last spring.

“I believe everyone was in their right (that day, protesting),” she said.

Nunatuavut president Todd Russell — who also faces charges — said prior to the group court appearance that the process “has been doing nothing but wasting taxpayers’ money.”

“This is a bit of sham, dragging innocent people through the courts, month after month,” he said.

“We're hoping it will all be thrown out. And we're still waiting on the NL Court of Appeal after nine months.”

Prior to heading into court, elder Jim Learning noted although any one of the nine Nunatuavut members could elect to stand trail at any given time on their own personal charges, they would like to get a trial date set “as a unit.”

“This is a real mangle,” he said. “I really don't think they know what to do with us.”

He added that the whole process — in his opinion — “shouldn't even be happening.”

“This has been dragging on for two years and a bit,” he said. “I'm not about to start a criminal career at 76 years-of-age.”

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