A B.C. Supreme Court judge has upheld a provincial court decision that found no merit in legal action taken against government employees by Dan Ambrosi, owner of a controversial landfill operation in Barnhartvale.
In his initial court action, Ambrosi alleged that government officials - including five City employees and one B.C. Ministry of Environment employee - refused to provide him with documents to which he was legally entitled.
"In general, Mr. Ambrosi's entire approach appears to be a misuse, if not an abuse, of the criminal process in order to advance his civil dispute with the City and the province," ruled Justice Robert Powers.
Claiming officials may have conspired to close down the landfill, Ambrosi invoked Section 337 of the Criminal Code, which makes it an offence for a government official to withhold materials after an authorized demand. He also claimed the City was attempting to unfairly compete against him through operation of the municipal landfill.
Provincial court judge David Pendleton found last August that Ambrosi's allegations had no merit and a trial should not proceed. Ambrosi then appealed that decision in the higher court.
In his grounds for appeal, Ambrosi contended that the Crown and the judge acted as advocates for the five City employees and Environment employee rather than prosecuting and presiding over the case.
He also argued other aspects of pre-inquiry proceedings were unfair - including a failure to bar media from the courtroom - and that all of this combined to deny him natural justice. That, he argued, justified his court challenge and the issuance of a writ forcing the documents to be handed over.
In the latest decision, Justice Robert Powers found that Ambrosi's claim that Crown was attempting to subvert justice were "spurious and without merit." He found that the issues cited by Ambrosi represented neither a want or excess of jurisdiction, nor a breach of natural justice.
Powers found that holding the hearing in public, while contrary to established rule, did not constitute a failure to exercise jurisdiction on the part of the judge. He questioned whether Ambrosi's use of Section 337 was even appropriate.
Ambrosi was seeking information and could have used the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to obtain it, Powers wrote.
"Criminal proceedings are not a game to be played for some ulterior motive," he noted.
The drawn-out case was separate from Ambrosi's trial on environmental offences arising from the same landfill operation. He was convicted in April 2011 and fined $54,000 for a fire that burned 24 hours and blanketed the area in smoke.
The conviction, his second for environmental offences, was upheld this spring in B.C. Supreme Court after Ambrosi appealed the decision.
Ambrosi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He could appeal the latest decision in the B.C. Court of Appeal.