Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is all smiles after after being found guilty of criminal contempt at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

UPDATED: Elizabeth May pleads guilty, fined $1,500 in pipeline protests

Federal Green Party Leader was one of more than 150 people facing criminal charges

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May pleaded guilty to criminal contempt on Monday, after protesting at a Kinder Morgan work site.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck also handed her a $1,500 fine, saying she had a higher responsibility than others who were arrested, considering her position as an MP, political party leader, and former lawyer.

May was charged along with Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart on March 23 for violating a court injunction that required protesters to stay five metres away from the Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby.

Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio pointed to aggravating factors, including May’s position of authority, in submitting the proposed $500 fine.

May’s lawyer pointed to mitigating factors including her lack of criminal record, her 40 years of public service and her willingness to plead guilty early.

May apologized through her lawyer, saying she “did not intend for her actions to be viewed as undermining the court.”

Affleck was unmoved by May’s apology.

“The law applies to everyone. Nobody is entitled to pick and choose the laws or the court orders that they will obey because they believe they have a higher obligation,” said Affleck.

“May exploited her role as a Member of Parliament and a party leader to encourage others to defy the injunction. I cannot accept a fine of $500 as recommended by the Crown and defence.”

May’s co-accused, Stewart pleaded guilty to his contempt charge in mid-May. He received a $500 fine.

Crown spokesperson Dan McLaughlin declined to comment on Stewart’s sentence at the time, but did say that convictions like his did not tend to produce a criminal record. Both May and Stewart will retain their roles as MPs.

The pair’s cases have been handled by two special prosecutors to avoid any perception of bias.

Speaking outside of court following her sentencing, May said she was “holding her head up high.”

“I clearly respect the rule of law,” May said.

“But in a democracy, there is room for non-violent civil disobedience.”

She denied Affleck’s accusation that she went to a public location for her anti-pipeline protest in order to draw media and public attention.

“I didn’t call the media for my arrest and I didn’t know media would be there,” May said.

“It was a personal decision, not intended to influence anyone else.”

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May talks to reporters after her conviction on criminal contempt charges. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

More than 150 other protesters are facing contempt charges. Trials have been ongoing since early May for those whose civil charges are being converted to criminal ones.

Crown lawyer Trevor Shaw, who is leading the prosecution for most of the accused, recommended fines of between $500-$4,500 and up to 14 days of jail time.

The sentences apply only to those pleading guilty.

May’s day in court comes just days before Kinder Morgan is set to announce its final investment decision on the controversial project on Thursday.

The company halted all non-essential work on the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion in early April, saying the B.C. government clearly did not support it.

Since then, amidst escalating legal battles between B.C. and Alberta, the federal government has promised to indemnify the pipeline’s investors against any losses.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Canada goose protected by horse from eagle attack, rescued and reunited with nest mate

One was protected from an eagle attack by a horse, the other one wandered onto a porch

RCMP trying to locate two men on outstanding warrants

Justin Tyler Pichoch and Gerald Isnardy are believed to be living in the Williams Lake area

Baby makes surprise arrival on Sheep Creek Hill

Meldrum Creek woman delivers in the passenger seat

Periods of light snow should end by noon for Williams Lake area

There is a southeast wind gusting up to 20 kilometres an hour that will ease up by noon, Environment Canada’s forecast suggests

First residents move into Nuxalk Nation’s tiny homes in Bella Coola

“Last fall when I was sleeping in my car I woke up to a big grizzly bear staring in my window” — grateful new tiny home resident Wayne Schooner

Fashion Fridays: Must-have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Most Read