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

It’s time to say “I see you”

Chief speaks out on First Nations issues

Nak’azdli Whut’en a vital part of Fort St. James

Progressive and self sufficient, the First Nation looks to the future

Here’s what Fort St. James councillors refused to hear

Citizens express frustration and anger

Citizens ejected from Municipal Hall – Locked out

Mayor refuses to allow discussion on controversial Bylaw regarding marijuana

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Cat found stuffed in box in Dumpster in northeastern B.C.

Still alive, cat was found near Dawson Creek restrained with zip ties, legs forced behind neck

Fears prompt feds to establish BBQ brush safety standards

Wire-bristle safety fears prompt Ottawa to establish BBQ brush safety standards

Don’t forget about women left to sweep up shards of glass ceiling, W7 urges G7

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau champions gender equality at the G7 he is being asked to raise the concerns of marginalized women

Canadian air travel industry fears pilot flight-time limits will go too far

Air carriers urge feds to slow down flight-time limits for sleepy pilots

Sky-high farmland prices ‘ruinous’ for B.C. agriculture: UFV ag professor

Fraser Valley-based Tom Baumann says $80K-per-acre in area threatens food security

B.C. man charged with litany of drug charges in cross-border smuggling operation

William Milton Barnes of Saanich faces multiple charges

Political heavyweights hit Washington in hunt for NAFTA deal

Officials from Prime Minister’s office, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland part of talks

Most Read