Charge withdrawn against man accused of threatening Alberta over carbon tax
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EDMONTON — The Crown has withdrawn a charge against a man who was accused of phoning the legislature office of Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and making a death threat over the province's carbon tax.
Michael Enright, 54, of Camrose, Alta., was charged in April 2016 with one count of making a threat to cause death or bodily harm.
Court records show the Crown withdrew the charge on Feb. 13.
Enright said the charge was withdrawn after the Crown's main witness and police failed to come to court. He said he had refused pre-trial offers to plead guilty and pay a fine.
"Three times they came to me and wanted me to plead and kept lowering the amount," he said Monday. "I said, 'No way,' because I didn't do what they said I did."
Phillips is not named in the charge document.
A member of her staff who took the call told police that a man, who didn't identify himself, said "he was going to get his ammunition and gun and come here and shoot us all."
Katherine Thompson, an Alberta Justice spokeswoman, said the charge was withdrawn after the Crown reviewed the evidence.
"The Crown prosecutor’s investigations into this particular case continued to evolve after the initial decision was made to lay charges against the accused, and they continued to evaluate the evidence in light of the prosecution standard of reasonable likelihood of conviction," Thompson wrote in an email.
"The Crown determined that this particular case did not meet that standard."
Enright, who said he lost his oil products sales job because of the charge and spent about $7,500 for legal services, contends he wasn't treated fairly by the government.
He said he has no criminal record, doesn't own a weapon or have a firearms permit.
In an interview with The Canadian Press last year, Enright said he called the minister's office to sound off after he listened to radio host Danielle Smith, former Opposition Wildrose leader, talk about the economy and the coal industry.
He said he became upset because people he knew were losing their jobs.
"I didn't mean to get upset and I did not threaten anybody at all. All I said was that if they (the NDP government) keep pushing people, people are going to get guns and they are going to revolt," he said last year.
"I was talking globally, not specifically. I would never, never, ever threaten anybody."
Enright said the months between when he was charged and when the case was withdrawn were tough on his family.
The maximum penalty for uttering threats is five years in prison.
"It was terrible. It put my wife and I under so much pressure, so much stress," he said Monday.
"To do that is morally wrong. But I denounce any kind of violence toward government. We have rallies. We have ways to protest, but when you phone them and they do that to you, I think they are in the wrong."
Enright said he has a new job and recently paid off his legal bills.
He suggested the government should reimburse him and wondered if he should file a lawsuit.