Vancouver – Betty Krawczyk has been protesting for the environment, defending trees and standing in front of bulldozers for several years. So far she has been arrested 8 times and served a total of about three years in prison. She is deemed a “repeat offender”.
Betty was born in Louisiana, U.S., and has been protesting for as long as she can remember. Some of her earlier protests had to do with racial integration, then against the Vietnam War. In 1964 Betty refused to pay income-tax because she did not want her money contributing to fund that war, and when her son was being drafted she left the country and moved to British Columbia. In BC she took to defend the waters and the forests and, in several occasions over the last 15 years, she has been jailed for “civil disobedience” over environmental issues.
In 2006, Betty Krawczyk, age 78 and a grandmother of eight, stood on public land in front of bulldozers while protesting logging operations to build the new 4-lane Sea-to-Sky Highway through the Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. A court injunction was issued asking Betty to stay away from the area. She defied the order, maintained her protest and blocked the machinery being used by the construction company. She was removed by police for criminal contempt of court and on March 5, 2007, she was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
At the time she was released, she launched an appeal on the sentence she had already served on the grounds that “the suppressing of protest inconvenient to corporations and governments is an illegitimate use of the legal system.” On September 22nd her appeal was heard in the Courts of British Columbia. After concluding the proceedings the three judges reached a “reserved judgment”. Thus, there will be a wait until a yet unannounced court date to hear the judges’ ruling.
The Crown has cross-appealed and asked the court to follow two cases as precedent. Both cases concern repeated violent pedophiles who raped their own children. Those cases resulted in ruling of life imprisonment for “chronic offenders”. The BC Attorney General’s submission has been interpreted as a recommendation to the Court to consider Betty as a “danger to the community”, a “chronic offender” with a personality disorder who has “accumulated convictions” and condemn her to life in prison. Michael Brundrett of the BC Attorney General’s Office indicated that the ruling on the chronic sex offenders state:
“When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life.”
The Crown has objected to the suggestion that by including in its submission to the Court the reference to the two cases of pedophilia was requesting an increase of Ms. Krawczyk’s original 10-month sentence.
“The Crown has … not equated the facts of Ms. Krawcyk’s case with cases involving sexual offenders. While making submissions to a Court the Crown may refer to cases for the legal principles they set out. That does not mean that the Crown equates the background facts of those cases with the case before the Court. In the context of Ms Krawczyk’s appeal, the Crown is not analogizing acts of civil disobedience with sexual offences.”
Betty’s environmental activism has made her well known in Vancouver and British Columbia. That motivated her to become involved in provincial and federal politics. In 2001 she run for the Green Party in provincial elections but was not elected. In 2008, Betty run in the Federal Election in the Vancouver-East riding, this time for the Work Less Party getting about 1 percent of the popular vote.