Rights-&-Freedoms defense failed for Sea Shepherds
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.–Rejecting a “freedom of expression”
defense in December 2005, Prince Edward Island Provincial Court
Judge Nancy Orr on January 17, 2006 convicted 11 crew members from
the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat of being
within half a nautical mile of sealers during the 2005 Atlantic
Canada seal hunt.
The 11 defendants were arrested after several were assaulted
by sealers, who were not charged.
Orr found Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson not guilty
because he did not leave the Farley Mowat during the March 31, 2005
confrontation, and “because it was established that the Farley Mowat
was a place of residence,” Watson said. The Canadian Department of
Fisheries and Oceans requires anyone who approaches sealers to have a
permit, but people may witness the hunt from their homes.
Three days later the Crown Prosecutor dropped charges against
Watson for alleged violations of the Canadan Shipping Act filed over
the same incident.
“We are appealing the guilty verdict against the 11 crew,”
Watson said, adding that the Crown is appealing his acquittal.
“The court has ordered the Sea Shepherd crew to be jailed
because they have refused to pay the $1,000 fine” that each was
levied, Watson continued. “The crew immediately indicated that
they were willing to be jailed, and agreed to enter the jail in
Charlotte-town on the first day of the 2006 seal kill. The crew also
indicated that they would go on a hunger strike for the three weeks
they were expected to serve.”
The Crown “retaliated by requesting that the 10 non-Canadian
crew members be turned back at the border if they attempt to enter
the country,” Watson said. “This makes expulsion from the country a
non-ordered part of the sentencing.”
The only Canadian convicted was Lisa Shalom of Montreal.
Earlier, the Sea Shepherds unsuccessfully argued that
“depriving us of access to the area where seals are killed is a
violation of the free-expression rights contained in the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Watson summarized.
Orr agreed on December 9, 2005 that “The applicant’s right
to freedom of expression has been infringed in this case by the
provisions of sections 32 and 33 of the Marine Mammal regulations.”
However, Orr ruled for the Crown in finding that “These
regulations are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic