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

RCMP annual report shows detachment issues, successes

Staffing shortages, travelling criminals were concerns in 2017

VIDEO: Property evacuated after mudslide closes Highway 3A

A mudslide has closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam.

Medical staff weighs in on KBRH design

Changes coming to the regional emergency department.

B.C., Alberta clash as Kinder Morgan suspends Trans Mountain work

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promises “serious economic consequences” for B.C.

Buy Low employee assaulted, suspect arrested

The suspect allegedly tried to steal a shopping cart.

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

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.

Thieves target B.C. firefighters helping flood victims

The service has been helping with sandbagging efforts, as rural Oliver battles flooding

B.C. towns rank in top honeymoon destination worldwide

Vernon, Kaslo, Sunshine Coast and the Island hit Expedia.ca’s list of top 18 honeymoon destinations

Olympic gold now official for B.C. weightlifter

Christine Girard’s bronze medal from 2012 Olympics upgraded to gold, IOC announces

Men arrested at Starbucks say they feared for their lives

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks, becoming viral video

Did a Canadian shoot down the Red Baron? A century later, debate hasn’t quit

Om April 21, 1918 two Canadians in their canvas-covered Sopwith Camel biplanes engaged the enemy

VIDEO: Canadian teen lands invite to Royal wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have invited Faith Dickinson, founder of Cuddles for Cancer

B.C. liquor server wage to be phased out by 2021

Piece work pay for farm workers rises, but stays in place for now

Most Read