Some shoot bullets, some throw rocks, others throw rotten fruit or vegetables... Canadians throw pies....

Man charged with hitting Alta Premier Klein with pie pleads guilty to assault

Judy Monchuk Canadian Press May 26, 2004

CALGARY (CP) - The man who slammed a cream pie into Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's face with "sucker-punch" force pleaded guilty to assault Wednesday.

Crown prosecutor Harold Hagglund called for a 30-day jail sentence for Chris Geoghegan. "(The pie attack) was not done carefully. It was not done to minimize harm," Hagglund told provincial court Judge Terry Semenuk. "It was done brutally. It was worse than a sucker punch." Earlier, Geoghegan, 24, showed no emotion as he watched a video of himself pushing the banana cream pie into Klein's face before hundreds of breakfast-goers during the premier's annual Stampede pancake breakfast last July.

Hagglund said the punishment should be in line with the sentence given for a pie attack on former prime minister Jean Chretien in Prince Edward Island in August 2000.

Evan Wade Brown received a 30-day sentence for that assault, but an appeal court found that a conditional discharge was more appropriate. Brown was released after serving eight days in jail.

Hagglund pointed out, however, that the P.E.I. court found the attack on Chretien, unlike Klein, was done "carefully to minimize harm."

Geoghegan's lawyer, Jack Kelly, said his client was sorry.

"He did not realize that he actually inflicted any pain on Mr. Klein," Kelly said outside court. "That's something that surprised him and that he does regret."

Kelly suggested a suspended sentence with probation and community service would be appropriate punishment for Geoghegan, who had not previously been in trouble with the law.

Geoghegan is to be sentenced Aug. 23.

Klein, who was meeting Wednesday with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell in Prince Rupert, B.C., refused comment on the case. He submitted a victim impact statement but it was sealed from public view.

At the time of the assault, however, he said he wanted justice done and that it hurt to be hit in the face with a pie.

"It's a pie today. It could be something else tomorrow and I'm not going to let this go without prosecution," he said.

About 30 people crowded the courtroom to support Geoghegan. Some handed out leaflets detailing 10 Top Reasons to Pie Klein.

"We think Ralph Klein hasn't been a fair leader in this province," said 16-year-old Kate Dalgleish, who carried a cardboard protest pie cut-out with the words Klein's Policies Assault the Environment.

Dalgleish said the prosecution was unjustified.

"Personally, I wouldn't say that's an assault. It's more of a protest," she said.

Geoghegan and two other men were charged with assault, but charges were later withdrawn against the others.

The Alberta Federation of Labour set up a Justice For Pies fund to pay for Geoghegan's legal defence. It has $1,000 in it, said federation spokeswoman Kerry Barrett.

Any money left over will be donated to homeless shelters, she said.

Prior to the Chretien assault, pie protests had been largely confined to Quebec.

Jean Charest was pied in April 2003, two days before his Liberals ousted the Parti Quebecois and he was elected premier of Quebec.

Former federal intergovernmental affairs minister Stephane Dion, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau have all been pied.

The Canadian Press 2004