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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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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Punishment through process. Eddie Maurice trial delayed for a fifth time.

This is getting beyond ridiculous.

The Maurice family has had their life put on hold for months ever since Eddie was criminally charged for defending his home and baby from intruders on a dark winter night last February.

Five times now Eddie Maurice has appeared in court to seek a trial date in order to clear himself and five times the case has been delayed because the RCMP and prosecution can’t get their collective shit together and present the evidence they apparently collected.

The stress is becoming more evident in the faces of the young couple with every appearance. They simply want to get on with their lives but can’t even begin to move on with it because the justice system won’t give them their day in court.

Last Friday in court, it was heard that it may take 8 to 12 months before the ballistic reports are ready!!!

 

In light of that, the case was put off until June 22.

Why bother? What the hell will the point be in coming to court yet again if it is clear that the damned evidence won’t be ready anyway?

In the video below, Eddie’s lawyer explains in detail where things are standing right now.

The point may indeed be to wear the Maurice family down. It is exhausting and expensive to keep appearing in court over and over and over again while making utterly no progress towards resolution. I suspect that more than a few folks in the system are watching and hoping that Eddie Maurice is going to tire out and wear down to the point where he will take a plea bargain. They are hoping that the family supporters who have been gathering outside of the courthouse at every hearing so far will lose interest and stop coming. They are hoping that that donors who have been helping fund Eddie’s defense will stop donating.

Well that isn’t going to happen!

It was injustice enough that Eddie Maurice was even charged for defending his home from the scumbag repeat offenders who entered his property. It is sickening to watch the system now being used to essentially punish and torture the family as this debacle drags on.

We will keep coming out. We will keep donating to the cause and we will not give up until Eddie Maurice is acquitted and he can get back to life with his family.

The next court hearing is in Okotoks on June 22 at around 9am.

Donations to help ease the legal fees can be made at Fundrayzer here. 

If you have time, donations can be made to a trust account at any TD bank branch at this account number: 8079-6142303 This saves on the fees that online fundraising sites have.

Email transfers can be sent here: helpeddiemaurice@gmail.com

An online petition demanding that Eddie be acquitted can be signed here. 

We need to ensure that this issue stays alive and that it gets resolved not only for the sake of the Maurice family, but for the sake of us all who are enduring this ongoing rural crime epidemic.

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The sound of silence

 

Rural crime in Alberta has been spiking for years. While RCMP stats claim the increase is as low as 41% somehow, local stats just in my little area have vehicle thefts increasing as much as 300% and property crimes in general doubling in the last few years.  This trend is evident across the entire province.

Below is my local report for just the last two days. It just doesn’t stop.

Jason Kenney and the UCP requested an emergency debate on rural crime in the legislature last November. The request was unfortunately shut down by the Notley government.

It came as no surprise to rural citizens when a situation arose which led to somebody getting shot.

 

 
Fortunately, nobody was killed when the situation unfolded on Eddie Maurice’s property in the very early hours of February 25th. A man was shot in the arm however and now Eddie Maurice is facing some very serious charges for the crime of standing up to protect his family.

Frustrated, infuriated and sympathetic citizens came out en-masse to show support for Eddie Maurice and his family last Friday when Maurice made his initial court appearance.

It speaks volumes when 200 people make time early on a cool Friday morning to come and stand outside of a rural courthouse.

Rural citizens are tired of being robbed and terrorized. They fear for the safety of their families and their property. They understand that things are escalating and that any one of us could have found ourselves in Eddie Maurice’s shoes if put into the same situation.

We understand that if this explosion of rural crime is not addressed soon, it is inevitable that a situation is going to arise where a person gets killed. Warnings from the RCMP against us defending ourselves and our property will mean little when we find intruders threatening our homes after dark when we know that the average police response time for an emergency is 40 minutes. We will take things into our own hands and deal with the legal fallout later.

The Maurice incident appears to have finally awoken the Notley government on the issue as $10 million was just dedicated to fighting rural crime.

The funding will bring 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and 10 Crown prosecutors focused on rural crime.

I fear that the increased officers and prosecutors will be used to crack down on crime victims who act to protect their own property but lets hope for the best. The government realizes that there is a serious problem and the addition of more officers is a good start.

Now that Notley and the NDP have awoken on the issue, where is Jason Kenney and the UCP? Where is Andrew Scheer and the CPC?

The issue of rural crime has been burning hotly throughout Alberta yet the silence from our elected conservative officials has been nothing less than deathly.

While I understand and appreciate that MLAs and MPs should not speak directly to specific cases before the courts, there is no reason nor excuse as to why they cant speak to the broader issue of rural crime as a whole.

While hundreds of citizens gathered in Okotoks last Friday, Pat Stier and Wayne Anderson of the UCP were nowhere to be seen. John Barlow of the CPC was absent as well. Neither the legislature nor the parliament were sitting on that day. If 200 people gathered and fearing for their safety is not an issue for an MP or MLA to attend to personally, what the hell is?

Now is not the time for political cowardice. This issue is too damned important.

Yes, there are some sticky aspects to this issue that makes many politicians want to cover their political testes and hide. Firearm use is touchy and polarizing. Addiction issues make many politicians squirm. While the Maurice issue appears to have no racial element involved in it (thank FSM), a huge amount of rural crime is directly tied to the socioeconomic catastrophe that we call the reserve system. Few things make politicians shudder more than native issues.

Well too damn bad! Suck it up guys! You campaigned to take on the tough jobs, now one is in front of you and I want to see you address it!

Where are the highway signs advertising town hall meetings on the issue? Where are the emails? Where is the press release? Where is the policy paper? Where is anything on this damn it?

At times, rural voters can be taken for granted by conservative parties in Alberta. The UCP and CPC know that they essentially have all of our rural seats in the bag and they are acting carefully to avoid possibly offending urban voters. Again, that’s just too damn bad. Urban voters would like to protect their safety and property at times too. Find a way to address it for all of us. Its your job.

While elected UCP MLAs are still hiding under the cone of silence, I see that some of those who are seeking nominations are speaking up at least.

Christine Moore is seeking a UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan lake and as can be seen, she is not being subtle on the issue.

Perhaps some of our incumbent MLAs need some nomination challenges based on this issue in order to get them to speak up. Few things wake up a politician faster than the risk of losing their job.

This issue is a literal life and death one. The next incident may end up with a much higher price than a criminal just finding himself with a hole in his arm. A criminal is going to end up dead soon (maybe some are already buried on the back 40). A homeowner may very well end up killed soon too.

Our elected officials need to get on this bus with this one. If they can’t get involved in an issue this acute, what the hell good are they indeed?

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Support Edouard Maurice

UPDATE:

The rally in support of the Maurice family will be held at the Okotoks courthouse on Friday, March 9 at 9am. A map to the location is below and some more details can be found at the facebook event page linked here.

Along with the account and email address below, a “fundrayzr” page has been set up for the Maurice family as well. Click here. 

 

 

Edouard (Eddie) Maurice of the Okotoks area is facing three charges of aggravated assault along with firearm charges due to an event that happened on his property early in the morning of Saturday February 24.

As has become an unfortunate trend in Canada, the victim is treated as the criminal should they choose to defend their family and property from intruders.

Defending one’s property and family should not lead to imprisonment and possible bankruptcy.

While Maurice’s case works through the court system, a great deal of financial and emotional pressure will be placed on Maurice and his family. Legal fees and living expenses will become acute as time is consumed with his defense.

That is why friends and supporters are raising funds to ease these burdens on the Maurice family in the months to come in a trust fund.

A trust account at TD Bank has been set up by Travis Dunn (family friend) which will gather and hold funds on behalf of Maurice.

Donations can be made to any branch of TD to account number 8079-6142303 and e transfers can be sent to helpeddiemaurice@gmail.com

A rally is being organized to show support for Eddie Maurice on the morning of Friday March 9 at the Okotoks court house where Maurice will be appearing that day. I will add details for the rally as I get them.

Financial support is welcome and critical.

Showing support through the rally and online helps too. We need to let the Maurice family know that fellow Albertans will stand by them even if the “justice” system may not.

Rural Albertans are tired of being victimized by criminals and being victimized by the system when they try to defend themselves. Rural crime rates are exploding and people can’t be expected to wait up to 40 minutes for aid to arrive. Self-defense of family and property is essential.

Please consider sending some funds to help the Maurice family and try to find time to come to the rally. This is so important to the Maurice family and all of us.

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