Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May was arrested at Kinder Morgan’s terminals in Burnaby on March 23. (File)

Elizabeth May, other anti-pipeline protesters should be criminally charged: judge

Green Party of Canada leader and others appear in B.C. Supreme Court after arrests three weeks ago

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May and Burnaby-South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart may be facing criminal contempt of court charges following an appearance at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday.

The pair were arrested with nearly two dozen others on March 23 for violating a court injunction that required them to stay five metres from Kinder Morgan’s two terminal sites on Burnaby Mountain where crews were working on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Work was suspended on Sunday, when Kinder Morgan officials said they were halting all “non-essential” construction, citing the B.C. government’s opposition to the project.

Anti-pipeline protestors host a drum circle in front of the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

“As a matter of law, the conduct alleged is criminal contempt,” Justice Kenneth Affleck told lawyer Trevor Shaw, who was representing the attorney general of B.C., in regards to the 25 people awaiting charges on Monday.

“These are matters of public importance in which the attorney general ought to intervene and take over. They ought not to be left in the hands of Trans Mountain.”

Kinder Morgan’s legal counsel Maureen Killoran told Affleck the company had filed civil charges in an attempt to bring the case to the court’s attention, but was happy to have them converted to criminal ones.

“This is not a dispute between the respondents and Trans Mountain, it is a dispute between the court and the respondents,” Killoran said.

Addressing the gallery, Affleck made it clear that his forthcoming judgment was not a “moral” judgment on Trans Mountain.

“These trials are limited to the issue if there has been criminal contempt of court; has there been public defiance of an order of this court?” Affleck said.

“This trial is not about whether the work done by Trans Mountain or Kinder Morgan is lawful or environmentally wise.”

Errol Povah had some choice words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in front of B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

The judge recommended a one-week break, with a response from the attorney general expended next Monday morning.

All 25 accused were free to go but are to be taken into custody if they contravene the conditions of their release, including any illegal activity or future protests.

If it were to go ahead, the twinned pipeline would transport oilsands crude from central Alberta to the terminals in Burnaby and triple the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

Protest continue outside of court

Speaking after her court date, May said Kinder Morgan’s decision to halt work was simply “political maneuvering.”

She said that the “artificial deadline” of May 31 was intended to increase pressure on the B.C. government.

“We have a strong case that this project is not in the national interest,” May said.

“The Kinder Morgan project is one… to ship a product for which there isn’t a market.”

May spoke in favour of building more refineries in Alberta in order to refine their bitumen instead of shipping raw product out west.

Asked if May had spoken to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley about her proposal, May said that they had one short talk but that she’d been unable to secure a full meeting.

Errol Povah was one of the 25 people arrested on March 23. He stayed outside the courtroom, he said, because his order to appear is only for June 6.

“I am just out here today supporting those arrestees who are inside,” the Surrey resident said.

Povah believes the pipeline expansion is bad for B.C. because of “the climate change issue, the risk to B.C. of a pipeline leak or a tanker collision or grounding.

“I’m concerned about the marine environment, most notably the orcas,” Povah said.

“We’ve got 76 resident orcas remaining, and they should not be put at risk.”

Anti-pipeline protestors host a drum circle in front of the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire grows to 340 hectares

BC Wildfire is on scene of what is being called the Good Creek blaze

Highway 97 closed again due to wildfire

Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland is being shut down due to wildfires

Progress made on fires above West Kelowna

A cluster of three fires are burning above West Kelowna

Wildfire near Peachland puts 150 people on evacuation alert

Peachland - Evacuation orders have been issued for Brent Road and Highway 97 South properties

Wildfire near Peachland puts 150 people on evacuation alert

Peachland - Evacuation orders have been issued for Brent Road and Highway 97 South properties

On the street: Kelowna reacts to 2018 wildfires

BC Wildfire is working with local departments to battle multiple blazes near Kelowna.

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Update: Size of large fire near Keremeos unknown

Two significant fires are burning in the Lower Similkameen, smoke can be seen as far away as Osoyoos

Penticton bans open burning

Temporary fire ban takes effect noon Friday

Man shot dead in Oliver home

RCMP major crime unit investigating after 58-year-old man was shot and killed

Syrian refugees fear for lives at home

Former head of Salmon Arm Refugee Coalition says Canada should be doing more

Shuswap’s first Syrian refugee wants world to stop dictatorship

Six of nine refugee families remain in Salmon Arm, all settling well ‘in paradise’

Most Read