It's not often I find myself sitting in court and actually enjoying the
proceedings, but this is exactly how I felt yesterday morning listening to
the arguments from both sides on the validity of the RCMP search warrant.
The session took the full morning, with my lawyer first making some
arguments on the disconnect between how an article from 1999 is connected
to me in BC in 2002. Although the arguments at times were kind of bizarre,
like "how does the Barbarash mentioned in the article equal the Barbarash
in Courtenay, BC?", they needed to be made to show that the Information to
Obtain the Search Warrant was fundamentally flawed in these areas. We have
a system of justice that must follow certain rules in order to be fair and
to not infringe on our Charter rights, and a major diversion from these
standards or omittance of critical information is not acceptable to the
Our main arguments focussed essentially on the reliability of basing a
search warrant on a newspaper clipping, which amounted to double hearsay
evidence. The Judge, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was noticeably
shaking her head in the affirmative and agreeing with most everything my
The government lawyer was, in a word, a joke. He seemed to be reading
scripted arguments and stumbled over many words in his droning monotone
voice. It seemed obvious to me that he was not the author, he was simply
reading what someone in a higher authority gave him to read. I could be
wrong, but this is how it appeared.
He tried in vain to say that there was nothing wrong with the search
warrant, that it had all the necesary components and validation needed,
but even the judge was incredulous and basically repeated our own
questions directly to the prosecution, trying desperately to understand
how a newspaper article was sufficient evidence. The government lawyer's
response was bizarre: the U.S. authorities gave us this evidence therefor
we must accept it as all that is required. And, since the article
corroborates factual incidents (the ALF attacks) then it could be seen as
Justice Bennett asked him where was the press release on which the article
was based? Why wasn't that included in the Information? She asked him why
the Information was lacking in so much essential detail, and why we should
make inferances as to certain points which were not clearly spelled out,
to which he could not really reply to other than, "it's from the U.S. and
we must trust them." In the AP article below he asserts that to question
the U.S. would be tantamount to questioning their trustworthiness! I say
that if we do not question the U.S. then we might as well give up any
notion of national sovereignty we might have!
At the end of the hearing the government lawyer suggested two things if
the search warrant is quashed - 1) that they may file a sending
application in any event to see if they could still send my property to
the U.S. and, 2) they may seek to issue another, corrected, search
warrant, in order to retain possession of my belongings. I don't really
understand how that wouldn't be an incredible abuse of judicial process,
but we'll wait and see.
Justice Bennett reserved her decision until next week. I remain
*extremely* optimistic, and will let you all know the outcome as soon as I
Thanks once again for all your support and words of solidarity, and thank
you to those who supported me by showing up to court.
Associated Press Newswires
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Spokesman for group accused of eco-terrorism challenges police raid in
By JEREMY HAINSWORTH
Associated Press Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The spokesman for a radical animal
rights group asked a judge to throw out a search warrant that allowed
Canada's anti-terrorism squad to raid his house on behalf of U.S.
David Barbarash, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, claims
the July raid on his Vancouver Island home by nine members of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team
amounted to harassment.
The anti-terrorism squad seized two computers, computer disks,
videotapes, photos and files from the home of Barbarash, who issues
statements on behalf of the ALF. He is seeking the return of his
The ALF and its sister organization - the Earth Liberation Front -
are accused by the FBI of being eco-terrorist groups that have caused
US million in damage in more than 600 attacks, ranging from
spray-painting buildings and breaking windows to firebombing fur farms,
research centers and a ski resort.
The ALF and the ELF deny they are terrorist groups, saying their aim
is to liberate animals or protect the environment, not to harm anyone.
Barbarash's lawyer, Michael Klein, told the court Wednesday that
there was insufficient evidence for a warrant under Canada's Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. The raid was based on one newspaper article that
quoted Barbarash as spokesman for the ALF, along with an interview with
the reporter who wrote the article, Klein said.
Government lawyer Matthew Williams argued the Canadian squad was
obligated to carry out the raid under a mutual legal assistance treaty
with the United States. Failing to act on information provided by U.S.
authorities would amount to an "attack on the trustworthiness" of the
United States, he said.
"Such an attack should not be entered into lightly without evidence
of misconduct," Williams told British Columbia Supreme Court Justice
Bennett said she would rule on the case next week.
Barbarash said he gets anonymous information about ALF activities and
passes it on to the news media. "I don't know who takes part in these
activities," he said.