Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, centre, is arrested by RCMP officers after joining protesters outside Kinder Morgan’s facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday March 23, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Elizabeth May, other anti-pipeline protesters to be criminally charged

Crown will take over the contempt charges initially filed by Kinder Morgan

Crown counsel announced Monday it will pursue criminal charges against Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart and dozens of other anti-pipeline protesters.

This follows their arrests on March 23 for violating a court order to stay away from Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline work sites in Burnaby.

Work was eventually suspended, on April 8, when Kinder Morgan officials said they were halting all “non-essential” construction largely because of the B.C. government’s opposition to the project.

Last Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck told Crown lawyer Trevor Shaw that violating the court injunction was a criminal, and not civil, matter.

Two special prosecutors have been appointed to handle two higher-profile cases.

Vancouver lawyer Greg DelBigio will handle May’s case and Vancouver lawyer Michael Klein will take over Kennedy Stewart’s case. The pair were appointed to avoid any bias, real or perceived, in the case.

Neither May nor Kennedy were in court Moday and their matters will be handled separately. They will make their next court appearance on April 30.

Court process ‘too fast to be fair’

Multiple defence lawyers for the other arrestees cautioned the judge that the schedule presented – with trials to start on May 7 – might be too rapid to be fair.

“We’re pushing back a bit on the sense of urgency,” said one. “I’m not sure this sense of urgency exists.”

Affleck told defence counsel that although he understood that the sheer number of people charged “imposed layers of complexity” on the trials, he was prepared to move as quickly as possible.

Shaw said that his team would work on a process for handling additional arrests as protests at the Trans Mountain site continue.

So far, Kinder Morgan has begun legal proceedings against 167 people and the company’s legal counsel Maureen Killoran said that 124 have been served either personally or have contacted the company after receiving a notice at their residence.

Speaking after court, Crown spokesperson Dan McLaughlin said that all 167 would be served with notice of pending criminal charges.

However, multiple accused protested the notion that they had been properly served.

One woman told the judge that her notice to appear was dropped off on her Victoria doorstep the night before her court date.

“What kind of operation is this?” she asked, sparking applause in court.

Affleck acknowledged that showing up for what has turned into a weeks-long process was difficult for the accused.

“But there’s something very important going on… and that is whether orders of this court can be disobeyed with impunity. And the answer is that they can’t.”

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Tlell Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday until Thanksgiving

The Observer mistook the final day for the farmers market – don’t miss the harvest!

Masset dodges empty-ballot bullet

After an extended deadline, Masset now has enough candidates for council

Sunny skies for Terry Fox Run

Queen Charlotte and Masset runs raise nearly $3,000 for cancer research

Canning sockeye by hand in North Coast B.C.

Arnie Nagy teaches the Northern View how to can salmon in Prince Rupert

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

New political party holds an informational session in Vernon

Maxime Bernier’s The People’s Party of Canada draws about 2o interested patrons to Vernon pub.

B.C. MLAs reminded of rural school struggles

Finance committee hears of falling enrolment, staff shortages

Most Read