By Letter to the Editor on January 17, 2017.
After nearly 10 years of her life, many thousands of dollars and other incredible personal sacrifices to pursue justice, Jessica Ernst was denied the right to sue the Alberta Energy Regulator on Friday by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision. Historically, the regulator has been an agency with a revolving door between it and the oil industry.
In part, the Supreme Court ruled that governmental bodies are immune from lawsuits. What that ruling conveys is that such bodies are above the law. For a nation that is supposed to be governed in part by laws, that democratic principle has been voided, thrown out and citizens can go to hell with a pile of debts.
And to cover its decision, the Court said that Ms. Ernst should have pursued a judicial review of how the regulator handled her complaints about fracking. That’s a cop-out by the court, especially given that the regulator returned her letters … unopened.
The abuse of power by corporations and government bureaucracies are two of the major weaknesses of democratic systems. That abuse was a major underlying force in the United Kingdom’s vote to exit from the European Union. Similarly, that abuse was a primary force in the alienation of United States voters in their recent federal election.
Is it any wonder that voters are disenchanted and turned off with governments, especially when honourable citizens sacrifice so much for a public cause? Jessica Ernst has sacrificed more in the past 10 years than most citizens do in a lifetime. Yet, the courts which are intended to provide justice, fairness, equity and other balances in a society that highly favours the powerful institutions – governments and corporation – have blown an opportunity to fulfill a meaningful role in Canada.
What was the basic issue in Ms. Ernst’s lawsuit? The well water on her farm near Rosebud was allegedly contaminated as a result of fracking by a multi-billion-dollar energy company.
Shame on the Supreme Court of Canada. You missed an opportunity to provide justice for an aggrieved citizen. Shame!
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