Public opinion matters & rational demonstrations make a difference.

Last week while at his sixth appearance at the Okotoks courthouse, Eddie Maurice finally had all charges dropped against him. 

Eddie had been charged with a number of offenses after confronting a pair of criminals who were on his property very late one night last February. Eddie was the lone line of defense between these crooks and his baby who was in his home as his wife was out of the province at the time. One of the scumbags was injured in the arm in the confrontation and Eddie Maurice found himself potentially facing years in jail for having done what any responsible parent would have done in the same situation.

On March 1st Eddie Maurice made his first court appearance in Okotoks. This was when the authorities began to realize that they may be on the wrong side of public opinion in this case.

Hundreds of supporters for the Maurice family made time to come out on a cold winter weekday and tens of  thousands of dollars were being raised for Eddie’s defense. It was clear that the public ire had been raised and that neither Eddie Maurice nor the general public were going to let this go down without a fight.

It was clear that no simple court victory was coming for the Crown.

Some formalities were observed and the next hearing was scheduled for two weeks later.

Eddie dutifully appeared in court two weeks later. Also appearing on what was an even colder day than the first appearance were supporters and press who huddled in the chill and made sure that Eddie and the Crown prosecutors knew that Eddie wasn’t alone in this.

The Crown had no evidence ready & Eddie was unable to make a plea. The case was punted two more weeks down the road.
It was made clear now that Eddie Maurice would be pleading not-guilty and that he would be seeking a jury trial.

Two weeks later the Crown lacked evidence and punted the case two more weeks down the road.

On Eddie’s fifth appearance in court, the Crown yet again lacked required evidence and the case was knocked down the road for another month.

Eddie Maurice’s life had now been held in a stressful legal limbo for four months and he had not even been able to make a damned plea and defend himself yet.

At every one of these court appearances the supporters appeared. At every one of these court appearances the media appeared. After every one of these court appearances stories were written and fund raising for Eddie continued strongly.

What the state will never admit is that they were watching what the public was doing every time. They were dearly hoping that the crowds would dwindle. They were hoping that either Eddie’s funds or resolve would dry up. They were hoping that the media were going to lose interest. None of these things were happening and public support for the Maurice family was only rising as outrage over the treatment of these young Albertans grew.

Another thing that the state will never admit made things into a turning point came from the injured criminal, Ryan Watson. Neither Watson nor his accomplice were strangers to the legal system. These were career losers who enjoyed Canada’s revolving door justice system. Well it turns out that Ryan Watson was arrested yet again for housebreaking!

Yes, it appears that the person that the crown wanted to paint as a victim in all of this was back out and robbing property owners as soon as his arm healed. Makes it tough for the Crown prosecutors to paint Watson as an unfortunate victim of the evil Eddie Maurice in these circumstances.

The issue that was already a public relations headache for the state was now about to turn into a public relations nightmare.

Somebody somewhere on high made the call to pull the escape hatch. A senior crown prosecutor was assigned along with a high ranking RCMP officer to head down to Okotoks to face the press outside the courthouse as soon as the charges were all dropped. It was an effort in damage control and it was clear that while the state was backing off in this case, their backing off was grudging at best.

They stated that public opinion had nothing to do with the dismissal of the charges. They say that it was a forensic report that would have made conviction impossible. I say BULLSHIT!

Conviction was indeed impossible but that was directly due to public support for Eddie. The state knew damn well that there was no way a jury was going to convict Maurice. The case was too established in the public eye and the public had no appetite for convicting a young man for defending his family.

The jury system is there to reflect the public and the peers of the accused. In these sorts of cases acquittals are common from Steven Kesler who was charged for shooting a criminal, to Gerald Stanley who shot a criminal to Peter Khill who was acquitted just the other day for shooting criminal. All of those cases involved the death of the criminal and in all of those cases juries acquitted the person defending themselves.

The law is in place to reflect and protect the public. When the law fails, the public corrects it through juries.

It is wrong that people have to put their lives on hold for months or even years in court for defending themselves and their property. We need to change our laws to reflect what the public wants and that includes the right to protect one’s person and property.

Reasonable and persistent demonstrations of support for Eddie Maurice made all the difference in his case though a prideful state will never admit that. The public spoke up and that public won and I can’t thank everybody enough for having done so from the people who donated, to the people who showed up to demonstrate to those who emailed and called their representatives. It works and it helps. It is important for all of us.

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Cory Morgan for NDP in Banff Kananaskis!

UPDATE!!!!

It appears that ranking apparatchiks have responded to Cam Westhead’s fearful cries as his nomination was democratically challenged. They have moved to block my effort with efficiency rarely seen among socialists!

Have no fear comrades! I am undaunted & will continue my campaign to ensure that Banff-Kananaskis has superior NDP representation to Cam “The Weenie” Westhead in the next election.

Viva la revolucion!

END UPDATE


Yes, I have had a revelation of sorts. I feel compelled to bring about true transparency in politics through the nomination system.

Everybody knows that the NDP is all one centrally run entity which constitutionally requires their provincial wings to follow the wishes, whims and policy planks of the federal party. While provincial leaders are beholden to their federal superiors, they like to talk a different game when it comes to winning their local seats.

Well its time to end our political double speak and dodging and run local NDP campaigns openly on what our agenda truly is!

I have taken the leap so to speak and put my name forth to usher in this new era of transparency in electoral politics among our socialist parties.

I am officially registered with Elections Alberta as a nomination contestant with the New Democratic Party of Alberta for the constituency of Banff-Kananaskis.

I am rather excited.

The inspiring and foundational document which will guide my actions & campaign is none other than the LEAP MANIFESTO which was heartily embraced by the gathered federal NDP members in Edmonton last year.

It is hard to stop gazing in awe and inspiration at this profound and nation changing NDP endorsed document. I wish other other NDP comrades of mine would come out in the open to promote this brilliance.

I think if I shave my head the right way, I will be a ringer for St. Vladimir Lenin!

I will highlight the most important points from the LEAP Manifesto.

Shift swiftly away from fossil fuels so that Canada gets 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources within 20 years

We have about 18 years left to shut down each and every coal and gas fired generation plant in Alberta.

Be entirely weaned off fossil fuels by 2050.

We will ban all cars and natural gas heating in 30 years and of course end all oil and gas activities in Alberta.

No new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources, including pipelines

All new projects MUST be stopped now. Under Notley we have been well on our way to that already but again, lets get our agenda out in the open.

“Energy democracy,” in which energy sources are collectively controlled by communities instead of “profit-gouging” private companies.

When all of Alberta is powered by wind, solar and unicorns in a few years, all of those sources of power will be managed by the collective.

End all trade deals “that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.

Yes we will rip up NAFTA and all provincial trade agreements. Yes we will be sued and lose in Canadian courts (as with beer) and by the WTO. Who said that saving the world will be cheap though?

Expand low-carbon sectors of the economy, such as caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media.

Yes. We will employ everybody in these sectors and will have the state take full control of the media (for the public interest of course). These will be funded by the aforementioned unicorns. They are a fantastic resource.

Pay for it all by ending fossil fuel subsidies, imposing financial transaction taxes, increasing resource royalties, hiking taxes on corporations and the wealthy, introducing a progressive carbon tax, and cutting military spending.

And of course through unicorn exports.

So, why Banff-Kananaskis?

I grew up and graduated high school in Banff.

My home in Priddis will be within the Banff-Kananaskis constituency when the writ drops and the gerrymandering…  I mean new boundaries come into full effect.

Last but not least, while Banff-Kananaskis is indeed represented by one of my NDP comrades right now, he is something of a weenie.

I fear that we simply can’t take Cam Westhead at his word on things as deeply important to the NDP as adherence to the LEAP Manifesto.

We need honest representation from somebody such as myself who will stay open and true to The Ideology!

Along with working to implement the LEAP Manifesto, I will continue with Notley’s work on ending poverty through business regulation and minimum wage hikes. I will lobby to raise the minimum wage to $120 per hour and regulate us all to a one day work week. What a happy world we will be! Those corporate fat cats can afford to fund this.

I also pledge to unionize kindergartens and to have a statue of our true patron saint erected in every town square.

Be sure to get on board and support the new revolution!

First Banff-Kanasaskis, then maybe Cochrane or something. Its negotiable.

 

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The price for mailing it in. Highwood is ready for change.

Highwood is one of the safest conservative seats in all of Alberta. The constituency resides just South of Calgary. It was formed in 1971 and the combined Social Credit/ Progressive Conservative vote was 93% in its first election.

Conservative support has softened in Highwood over the decades to the point where the combined Progressive Conservative/Wildrose Party vote in the 2015 election was a mere 74% (it was over 95% in 2012).

The real democratic race in Highwood will be for the UCP nomination rather than in the general election and this coming nomination race is ramping up to be a hot one.

Most parties will snap the nominations open and shut quickly in constituencies where they already have strong incumbent MLAs. The UCP is no exception.

Prasad Panda, Ric McIver and of course Jason Kenney have already had their nominations opened and closed.

Highwood is a different story. Not one but three strong candidates are contesting the UCP nomination right now.

Wayne Anderson is the incumbent MLA in Highwood. He was in the right place at the right time and was acclaimed for his initial nomination. The 2015 election was hard fought but the Wildrose still won Highwood constituency with narrow 8% margin. It should be noted that the combined conservative vote dropped in Highwood by 20% in that campaign. The winner got a grudging endorsement from the voters.

The relatively narrow win coupled with a drop in general conservative vote would have served as a warning to a canny incumbent. It is clear that the electorate in Highwood want to see an active MLA and want to feel that they are strongly represented. Alas, Mr. Anderson instead chose to mail it in with a lackluster backbench presence which is now catching up to him as electors organize to have him replaced. There will be no comfortable acclamation here.

One of the most pressing issues for residents of Highwood has been the ongoing and growing epidemic of rural crime. The issue came to a head when Highwood resident Eddie Maurice was charged and faces jail time for wounding a criminal as he defended his home and baby.

Highwood citizens along with Albertans in general were outraged at the charges being laid against Mr. Maurice. Hundreds rallied in support of Eddie Maurice at his first court appearance in Okotoks on a cold Friday morning. 

Notably absent from the rally was the local MLA Wayne Anderson. The legislature was not sitting and while Wayne never misses a mid-week fundraiser he somehow couldn’t find time to join hundreds of his constituents to express concern on an issue that impacts us all. Perhaps it was a little too chilly outside for him. That can have an effect on urban types such as Mr. Anderson.

On the following Monday Wayne Anderson had a chance to speak to this issue at the legislature.

As reported by Rick Bell:       “Then, lo and behold, Wayne Anderson, who represents Eddie Maurice in the legislature, stands up. This should be good, I’m thinking. Sadly, nothing on the criminals creating havoc in the countryside.”

Apparently Wayne didn’t think the issue was important enough to use his question on. Perhaps Wayne just didn’t want to wade into an issue as complex and potentially sticky as rural crime. Backbench warmers do have a tendency to vanish from any possibility of a controversial issue.

Eddie Maurice made five more court appearances since that first one. His issue is still ongoing. Sadly, his provincial representative has hidden from each and every one of those hearings.

While Wayne Anderson may be oblivious to the issues that are most important to his constituents, it is clear that residents of Highwood aren’t.

Daniel Smith learned the hard way what happens when you incur the wrath of the membership in Highwood. As an incumbent she lost her nomination to Carrie Fisher. That same Carrie Fisher is now running against Wayne Anderson for the nomination.

Along with Fisher, R.J. Sigurdson is running for the nod in Highwood. Sigurdson is a former constituency president of Highwood and is familiar with the members out there.

Local businessman Dean Leask was the first out of the gate in challenging Anderson for the nomination. Dean has some very strong credibility with his past involvement in both the PC party and the Wildrose Party at the provincial executive level. He knows how grassroots organizing works and isn’t hiding from the issues. 

Rather than perhaps looking inward to understand why he is being so strongly challenged for his nomination, Wayne Anderson has come out indignant and spitting. His first response was to attack Fisher and Sigurdson in an interview with the High River times. 

Wayne would be better served to consult with his constituents rather than attack the people who have put their names forward to better serve them.

Its in Anderson’s reaction to the challenge where we see the entrenchment of entitlement. One of the worst possible ailments of elected officials.

Will Anderson learn how to hit the ground to meet with constituents and sell memberships fast enough to head off these challengers in the coming weeks? Time will tell. He really should have started on this years ago.

Nominations are often overlooked by the public but they are a critical aspect of our system. When run properly, they keep our elected officials on our toes and they teach up and coming candidates how to consult and connect with their constituents.

The nomination process appears to be doing its job in Highwood.

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