Top lawyer takes Greenpeace case, calls Alberta government remarks ’McCarthyism’

One of Alberta’s top lawyers is defending 16 Greenpeace activists facing charges after a protest at an oilsands upgrader near Edmonton.

EDMONTON — One of Alberta’s top lawyers is defending 16 Greenpeace activists facing charges after a protest at an oilsands upgrader near Edmonton.

Brian Beresh calls recent remarks by Tory politicians “McCarthyism” and says they are the most blatant example of political interference in the justice system for more than a decade.

He says that was about the time when then-premier Ralph Klein told judges he could hire and fire them.

In remarks earlier this week, Premier Ed Stelmach said protesters were being coddled by the justice system and he would work with legal officials to stop them.

Solicitor General Fred Lindsay mused about using the province’s counter-terrorism provisions against the protesters.

Beresh said the remarks not only presume the guilt of people who haven’t even made a court appearance, they inflame the public against environmentalists.

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