14 April 2010

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Charges laid against one Innu hunter from events in 2009 caused a minor flurry in St. John’s when the news broke charges had been laid. This will likely wind up being a big political story but a very short legal story.

Essentially, this is a political prosecution, done for show and nothing more. The government had to hunt around for someone to charge after all the controversy earlier in the year.  If it was a real charge, the justice minister would be speaking to it and since he was nowhere to be seen, you can draw the logical conclusion.

The fact the wildlife crowd came up with one lone guy to charge – from 2009 – would cause even the most blind judge to wonder what was being tossed in front of him. 

In the end the hunter will get off for one of several reasons.  The most obvious one is the aboriginal right to pursue traditional ways.  That’s the most obvious reason and the one that is pretty hard for the Crown to refute.

They can’t play the endangered herd card for one simple reason:  if the Innu actually had been killing the herd at the rate claimed, the herd would have been killed off 25 years ago.

Second, there is the angle to use if the guy has a lawyer bent on embarrassing the living crap out of the Legal Genius(es) behind the prosecution. 

If that’s the case, the lawyer will scream that his client is being abused because he is from another province. He will have plenty of evidence to back up this line.

The lawyer will point to the treatment of his client compared to Innu hunters from Labrador who were caught red-handed killing animals of an endangered herd who had their gear and vehicles returned to them. The lawyer can point to the need to get a deal on the Lower Churchill as a motivation for the blatantly unfair treatment accorded to the Labrador Innu. He doesn’t have to prove that, mind you.  He can just allege it.  Think of it like claiming your client got a shit knocking on George Street because his old man was in a labour dispute or words to that effect. 

He can also have a go at the natural resources minister for alleging the Innu were potential murderous bastards.  Her whole line about something flung into the blades of a government helicopter seems a tad overblown. 

And if in the process the lawyer for the poor fellow facing charges can coax a characteristically intemperate outburst from the province’s Chief Lawyer, then all the better for his client.

Ginger, get the popcorn.