Premier Stelmach was menaced by phone call



A construction worker described as a “confused drunk” by his defence lawyer has been found guilty of uttering death threats against Premier Ed Stelmach and of a handful of firearms offences.

He blamed the threatening phone call he made to the premier’s office last year on “a little bit of booze” and “fatigue,” but mostly “stupidity” in a police interview.

Ronald Edward Labelle, 57, did not take the stand in his own defence during his two-day trial, but his lawyer argued that he was being “candid” when he spoke with Jennifer Dalmer, the premier’s former secretary.

She testified that Labelle phoned on Sept. 7, 2007, and said he would travel to Stelmach’s farm, dig it up, kill all his cattle and harm the premier.

He was furious about the government’s stance on an ongoing dispute with a trade union, she said, and his tone was so upsetting that she alerted police and quit her job a week later.

Provincial Court Judge Fern LeReverend ruled that Labelle was guilty of all charges, even though he may have found “courage in a bottle” before placing the phone call.

“He intended to intimidate in order to bring his concerns to the attention of the premier,” she said, ruling that his mild intoxication wasn’t a valid excuse. “… He knew what he was doing and intended his actions.”

Labelle initially denied that he had made the threats when a police tactical team surrounded his house. Officers discovered 14 unloaded and unregistered weapons in his basement. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said outside of the courthouse that he intends to seek a jail sentence with a probationary period for Labelle in order to send a strong message. The maximum jail term for uttering threats is five years.

The premier’s office did not return calls for comment yesterday, but Stelmach said earlier this week that he had faith in the justice system.

Labelle will be back in court on May 26 for his sentencing hearing. A psychiatric evaluation and pre-sentence report have been ordered.