[Hpn] FW: Justice for Pies Legal Defence

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Tue, 15 Jul 2003 16:43:43 -0400


-----Original Message-----
From: worker-san@lists.tao.ca [mailto:worker-san@lists.tao.ca]On Behalf
Of Scott Harris
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 4:28 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: san: Justice for Pies Legal Defence


Klein mixed the ingredients for this pie himself
AFL sets up legal defense fund for pie-throwers

The "pie-that-was-heard-across-the-country" may have been delivered to
Premier Ralph Klein early last week - but it had been in the oven for a
long time. And the Premier himself had a hand in mixing the ingredients.

That was the assessment from Alberta Federation of Labour president Les
Steel after learning of the now notorious "pie-tasting" incident involving
the Alberta Premier and three Calgary students.

"For the past week, the papers have been filled with indignation about the
so-called attack on our Premier," says Steel.

"Conservative politicians and pundits have whipped themselves into a
frenzy debating whether the perpetrators should be jailed, publicly
flogged or run out of the province. But what nobody is talking about is
why the pie was thrown in the first place and what it says about the
levels of frustration and alienation being felt by many Albertans -
especially young people."

Steel says that incidents like the Stampede pie-throwing are predictable
in a province where the wishes of significant sections of the population
are routinely ignored and where legitimate expressions of dissent are
often met with hostility, contempt or derision.

"In a lot of ways, we have a feeble political culture here in Alberta -
one that pushes too many people to the margins," says Steel.

To illustrate his argument, Steel points to the Klein government's
policies on education, deregulation and university funding.

"We've got a government that forced power deregulation on a public that
didn't want it. We have a government that claims it can't afford to
maintain our education system even though we've recorded years of
multi-billion-dollars surpluses. And we have colleges and universities
that are being priced out of the reach of more and more of our young
people.

"To top things off, when people raise concerns about these things, they're
either met with smug indifference or dismissed as 'left-wing nuts.' In
this environment, is it any surprise that young people might feel a need
to send a message to the Premier and blow off a little steam?"

As a leading member of a group that is also routinely ignored and vilified
by the government, Steel says he shares the frustration felt by the pie
throwers - though he says his "weapons of choice" will remain the pen and
the picket sign.

In addition to sympathizing with the frustration that may have led to
the pie-throwing incident, Steel says he's worried the pie throwers
themselves may become victims on the way to the court house.

"It's Stampede time in Calgary, and judging by the overblown reaction to
this incident that we've seen so far, I'm worried that these young people
are going to be stampeded into an unfair and inappropriately harsh legal
circus," says Steel.

"That's why we've decided to set up a legal defence fund for the pie
throwers. We don't think charges should have been laid at all. But if
there is going to be a trial, we want to make sure these young people
aren't sacrificed to make some kind of harsh political point. This was
just a prank - and we want these kids to get a fair trail."

People interested in supporting the defense fund can send their
contributions to directly to the Alberta Federation of Labour's office in
Edmonton c/o the "Justice for Pies" defense fund:

Alberta Federation of Labour
350, 10451-170 Street
Edmonton, AB  T5P 4T2

Steel says that any funds collected, but not needed for the defense, will
be donated to homeless shelters around the province, including the Herb
Jamieson Centre in Edmonton - site of Premier Klein's notorious late night
visit with the homeless.

"The goal of this would be to remind Albertans that they were lenient and
understanding when the Premier stepped over the line with homeless people
at the Herb Jamieson Centre in Edmonton," says Steel. "So we would like to
see the same spirit of understanding embraced when dealing with the three
Calgary students."