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

Police looking for witnesses to Highway 97 south fatality

A single male occupant was killed on Oct. 21 when his car went off the highway near Clinton

A display of heart at The Rusty Bucket

Located just outside the city, The Rusty Bucket is a perfect getaway for shoppers.

Two prescribed burns planned in the Cariboo-Chilcotin

BC Wildfire Service crews will be assisting with two ecosystem restoration burns… Continue reading

Construction of several new businesses continues in Williams Lake

FYIdoctors, Tim Hortons have confirmed they are going into Prosperity Ridge and the former Lake City Ford site on Oliver Street

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

WWE star Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia

Grappler formerly played in CFL

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read