March 14th, 2000
The judge in the trial of Wiebo Ludwig and Richard Boonstra yesterday declared Robert Wraight, RCMP informant and star witness for the prosecution, a "tainted witness".
Justice Sterling Sanderman questioned Wraight's credibility saying that Wraight's sole motivation in testifying was monetary. He also indicated that if the crown has nothing better than Wraight's testimony and the circumstantial evidence it has presented, dismissal of charges is likely.
For anyone unfamiliar with the case, Ludwig and Boonstra are two men at odds with an oil company over the ill effects upon family members of sour gas emitted by wells and pipelines on or near their Trickle Creek Farm in Alberta, Canada.
Sour gas, or hydrogen sulphide, is a powerful neurotoxin, much like cyanide. It has been blamed, among other things, for abortions in both humans and cattle.
In their attempts to redress the situation, Boonstra and Ludwig have incurred the wrath of the oil industry and become victims of harassment by oil companies, the RCMP, and, with tragic results, local yahoos.
During their current trial on charges of vandalism against an oil company, it has come out that:
Gordon Laird of the Parkland Institute University of Alberta think-tank goes further in exposing the relationships between oil and government.
In his March 3, 2000 article for The Globe and Mail, Mr. Laird observes that:
How well have the foxes done in guarding the henhouse? Very well. During a 6-year period during which wells increased by four-fold, Alberta cut the budget of its energy regulator by nearly a third.
Anyone who has dealt with oil and gas companies as an adversary will not be very surprised by these things. For everyone else, the Ludwig/Boonstra trial should be a wake-up call as to how cozy is the relationship between the oil and gas industry and governments at all levels.
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