Skip to content

Land and water defenders who blocked Kinder Morgan terminal now facing criminal contempt charges

The 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline is a climate crime.

The Council of Canadians stands with the more than 150 people now facing criminal contempt charges for blocking the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby in defence of the climate, water and Indigenous rights.

StarMetro Vancouver reports, “In Vancouver, people arrested for breaking a court-ordered injunction while protesting in front of Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm are now facing criminal — rather than civil — contempt of court charges. …The B.C. Prosecution Services took over the cases after Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck recommended last week that criminal charges be brought against the people facing charges for disregarding a court-ordered injunction banning protesters from being within five metres of Trans Mountain’s worksites.”

It also notes, “Special prosecutors have been appointed to address the cases against Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart and determine whether the actions of the two members of Parliament amount to criminal contempt of court.”

The National Observer highlights in its report on an initial court hearing yesterday that, “Defendants were registered with the court. A procedural process followed which was focused on scheduling future court dates. Some must return April 23 for a case conference and another appearance on April 30 may hear guilty pleas.”

Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve has commented, “The protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline are clearly an act of conscience, motivated by a concern for our common environment and the rights of others. This, not the defiance of the court injunction, should be the determining factor in deciding upon the appropriate response.”

Amnesty International notes, “The right to peaceful protest is an internationally recognized and protected human right, enshrined in numerous international human rights treaties binding on Canada. All governments and all authorities in Canada are obliged to uphold this essential right, which can and should only be restricted when absolutely necessary. Enforcement of any such restrictions should avoid criminalization except where the actions of protesters have endangered lives or property.”

The Vancouver Sun has reported, “The first trial is scheduled for May 7 for 10 protesters arrested on March 17.”

Dylan Mazur of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has written “it is difficult to pre-determine what a sentence may be for a conviction of criminal contempt of court” but noted that in the past sentences have included custodial sentences (jail time) of 30-45 days, fines of $1,000 to $1,500, or suspended sentences.