The Globe & Mail Falls Hook, Line & Sinker For Iranian TV’s Anti-Canadian Fish Story (feat. Patricia Kelly & PressTV)

Patricia Kelly & Anthony James Hall with the Mennonite Church.

Patricia Kelly & Anthony James Hall in the Mennonite Church newsletter

Last July PressTV broadcast what was undoubtedly their greatest ever fish story. Being a propaganda arm of the Iranian government they’ve told a lot of whoppers. This story is no different that way, but it does have an amusing twist. It actually involves fish- documenting the perils faced by Patricia Kelly as she battled for her rights as a member of the Sto:Lo nation.

After nine years and two hundred appearances later a decision has finally been made. The court granted an absolute discharge and compensated Kelly for all but 276 of the 296 salmon confiscated from her by Fisheries And Oceans Canada as she delivered them to a commercial fish distributor. Kelly’s total compensation was $2,482- or, $9 per fish.

Kelly declared her case to be a major victory for indigenous fishing rights. In an interview with Kelly, Mark Hume of the Globe & Mail appears to have fallen for her story hook, line & sinker. Hume omits to mention how Kelly’s entangled with revolutionary activists who’ve been appropriating the voices of native communities across the country. He also leaves out how some of these activists are working with at least one hostile foreign government.

Two of the key supporting characters in this farce were PressTV’s Joshua Blakeney, and his professor/mentor Anthony James Hall. Both Hall & Blakeney came to public attention out of the movement to investigate 9/11- an issue that’s been heavily backed by PressTV. There’s a growing number of people in the Truther community who believe Hall & Blakeney’s outrageousness is a danger to their community. Some are concerned their wild stories are intentionally there to ‘poison the well’.

PressTV’s first story about Patricia Kelly was also the most stellar example of how they discredit the movements they grasp onto. When Blakeney interviewed Hall about Kelly’s plight, Hall looked right at the reporter and said that the government of Canada is engaging in a conspiracy to kill Pacific salmon in a targeted plan to kill BC’s indigenous people. The Iranians broadcast this story across the globe. (palm–>forehead)

One of the more colourful moments of Kelly’s 200 court appearances occurred in July when she walked into the courthouse banging her drum. Courts were in session and people working on other matters were disturbed – but, in the minds of Kelly and her supporters, as an indigenous woman, she had every right to do this- as it’s an “important cultural protocol and practice”. It may be, but it was executed as an intentional provocation.

Patricia Kelly called Anthony James Hall as an ‘expert’ witness in her case. The court was skeptical, and Hall’s background as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ was discussed- but, ultimately, he was allowed to testify and explain his theory how the charges against Kelly were a violation of her rights as a member of the Sto:Lo nation.

Kelly also received backing from the Mennonite church. She was given a symbol of their support called the ‘Peace Lamp’, and was written-up as a hero in their BC publication The Assembled News. The Mennonites, through their anarchist led Christian Peacemaker Teams, have a long history of supporting native revolutionaries including the mess at Caledonia, and the Grassy Narrows in Ontario.

Professor Hall is a vocal supporter of the No One is Illegal, an anarchist organization whose members and leaders unabashedly promote the use of activist violence and openly racist rhetoric. Robyn Heaslip, another close associate of No One Is Illegal, has also worked closely with Kelly’s case. She was a witness to the arrest during the drumming provocation, saying Kelly was ‘brutalized’.

But, despite all of the rhetoric put out about this case, the reality was much different. Fisheries and Oceans inspectors could only prove that 20 of Kelly’s confiscated salmon were fished from outside of Sto:Lo territory- the court didn’t compensate her for these fish. Had the decision backed Kelly’s claim that she’s allowed to fish anywhere, anytime, she would have been compensated for these fish too.

Hume’s story makes no mention of the uncompensated fish. In fact, he goes one step further, omitting to mention the fish were being sold to a distributor, and saying “She said the fish she caught in the summer of 2004 were gathered on behalf of her large family, in preparation for ceremonies that were planned for that winter.”

Now Patricia Kelly has announced she will move back to Sto:Lo territory (she’s currently living in Alberta) and start fishing again. Hume quoted her in his story saying “Yes. I am going fishing again, And I’m not going after a permit. … I don’t need a permit from Canada. I’m unceded. I’m unconquered”. But, the court decision doesn’t back that statement- she’s allowed to fish in Sto:Lo waters, but nothing has changed about poaching off her territory. When I asked Kelly if she planned to appeal the decision on 20 of the fish she declined to comment.

If this case proves anything it’s that BC’s courts are slow, inefficient and somewhat ineffective. It’s now obvious that fisheries inspectors didn’t have the evidence needed to confiscate all but 20 fish. It took 200 court appearances over a period of 9 years to figure that out- something’s seriously wrong with that. Perhaps it’s time to reform the court system?

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