On August 24, 2006, Madam Justice Brown dismissed Betty Krawzcyk’s application for a jury trial, rejecting submissions that she has a constitutional right to such a trial under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Betty Krawczyk, a 78 year old great-grandmother, faces a trial on September 15, 2006 on allegations that she is in crimnal contempt of court for disobeying an interim injunction order made in a civil case commenced by two corporations against Dennis Perry and Bruce McArthur. Perry and McArthur are two West Vancouver residents who were distressed by the BC government’s plan to construct a four lane highway through a sensitive and unique ecosystem known as “Eagleridge Bluffs”, rather than using a more environmentally-friendly alternative.

Betty was arrested after repeatedly putting herself in the path of excavation equipment to symbolically protest the provincial government’s decision to destroy the Eagleridge Bluffs. She has not been arrested or charged under the Criminal Code. Rather, she is the subject of a widespread BC practice, sometimes called “government by injunction”, whereby companies file a civil lawsuit and then prevail on the courts to issue a temporary injunction order to preserve the status quo. This is the technique used by MacMillan Bloedel in the notorious Clayoquot Sound case, where almost 900 people were arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for criminal contempt of court. The civil lawsuit that triggered the arrests was later dismissed for want of prosecution.


Here are some learned comments on the practice of “government by injunction”:

“Government by injunction is a thing abhorrent to the laws of England and this province.”

Middleton J.A., Ontario Court of Appeal, 1924

“Having obtained an injunction in protection of a private right, the plaintiff seeks to turn it into a public criminal prohibition against the whole community, on the ground that there would be otherwise a flouting of the due course of justice. Can it be doubted that the proposition carries its own condemnation? It is indeed an ingenious argument for securing the aid of the criminal powers of the equity court against any persons whom the court can be induced to regard as having affronted its dignity or having interfered with the due performance of its functions.” Bora Laskin, 1937, Canadian Bar Review

“This has been a maliciously effective, pseudo-legal way of breaking the back of legitimate moral process.” Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963, commenting on the injunction and contempt charge that landed him in the Birminingham Jail.

“There is today the grave question of whether public order should be maintained by the granting of an injunction, which often leads thereafter to an application to commit for contempt or should be maintained by the Attorney General insisting that the police who are under his control do their duty by enforcing the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code” Southin J.A., 1990, BC Court of Appeal, Everywoman’s case

[This is], in essence, a request for the court to craft a proscriptive law binding on all citizens respecting certain activities. It is not the assertion of a civil claim at all, but the adaptation of the mechanics of a civil claim for the purpose of legislating, by way of injunction, a form of ad hoc criminal law…I think this proceeding amounts to a kind of officially induced abuse of process.”, McEwan J., 2003, BC Supreme Court