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Two MPs arrested for violating Kinder Morgan court injunction

Last Updated Mar 23, 2018 at 9:43 pm PDT

NDP MP Kennedy Stewart and Green Party leader Elizabeth May join protesters at a Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion worksite in Burnaby on March 23, 2018. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Kennedy Stewart, Elizabeth May have violated a court-ordered injunction at Burnaby Mountain

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart have been arrested on Burnaby Mountain for violating a BC Supreme Court order related to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The two politicians stood just inches from the Kinder Morgan gates today, in defiance of the injunction which says demonstrators must stay at least five metres back from Kinder Morgan facilities.

May was calm as she was led away by a group of Mounties and was joined by Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart.

Before the arrest they held a sign criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of his approval of the pipeline expansion. They are the first politicians to be arrested in the demonstration.

“Surrealistic, as a former practicing lawyer, and a member of parliament, and someone who’s never broken any law in my whole life, I’ve never been in a situation where the RCMP are reading me my rights,” May says.

Both are charged with civil contempt, and will be in court June 14th in Vancouver. They have since been released from custody.

“When your government doesn’t listen and your government breaks its word, sometimes you’re forced to stand in non-violent, civil disobedience, as a respectable, legitimate form of protest,” May says.

When asked what she felt her presence and arrest accomplished, May admits she doesn’t know. “But I spent years as an intervenor for the National Energy Board and the Kinder Morgan process, and I don’t think I accomplished anything. Because none of the evidence, none of the arguments were listened to or considered.”

May says she will abide by the conditions of her release and stay outside the injunction zone, but will continue to fight against the pipeline.

LISTEN: NEWS 1130’s Lasia Kretzel speaks with Elizabeth May after her arrest

Earlier in the day, the Green Party leader said she was prepared to be arrested to fight the pipeline.

“I was on a road, blockading logging on Clayoquot Sound in 1993. The RCMP came and read the injunction and I stepped aside. I don’t think I’ll step aside today.”

She added that she would not participate with anyone who is violent.

Stewart says his constituents have been fighting the planned expansion for years.

“I feel I have no choice, at this point, but to do this to amplify the deep, deep opposition to this project that’s felt by my constituents.”

Stewart argues BC bears most of the risk from the pipeline but gets almost none of the benefits. “We won’t see a drop of this oil unless it spills out.”

“We have an existing pipeline that my constituents support because they’re not hypocrites and they know that’s the pipeline that supplies the oil and gas and the jet fuel, which we use every day,” he adds.

A lawyer for Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada, told a judge at hearings on the injunction application that the protesters’ goal was to cause so much financial harm through delays that the company would be forced to abandon the $7.4-billion project, which has been approved by the National Energy Board and the federal government.

Protesters have set up tents, trailers and a wooden cabin outside Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby facility in the ongoing demonstrations.

So far, dozens of people have been arrested for violating the injunction.

Most have been peaceful, but on Monday, three officers suffered minor injuries. One was apparently kicked in the head and the others suffered injuries to the knee and hand.

Impact of high-profile arrests on anti-pipeline cause

Political scientist Hamish Telford says that while the arrests will likely neither boost, nor hurt, their political careers, it likely will raise the profile of the entire pipeline debate.

“When two MPs get arrested this is a national news story, particularly when one of them is party leader,” he tells NEWS 1130. “And I think the other thing it does is it bolsters the credibility of the protest.”

He believes the arrests are also putting more pressure on Trudeau, who now has federal colleagues openly demonstrating the deep opposition to the pipeline in the Lower Mainland, where the Liberals have a lot of seats.

One politician who hasn’t shown up yet is Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who back in 2014, declared he was going to put himself in front of a bulldozer in order to stop the project.

Protesters rally in Vancouver

Meantime, dozens more protesters rallied outside the office of federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in Vancouver this afternoon.

Pipeline expansion protesters rallied outside the office of Vancouver MP Jody Wilson-Raybould. They had planned to deliver water samples, but access to the office was allowed only via buzzer. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Doctor Stephanie von Dehn, who was on Burnaby Mountain when Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart got arrested, says she wishes more Liberal MP’s would join them.

“Jody wasn’t there, so I really want to know where she is because we need her. We really need her to protect the water and protect this province and protect the climate.”

During the Vancouver rally, several drivers in gas-powered cars honked in support and von Dehn says that’s encouraging.

“People are on board. They know this transition is needed now. We don’t have ten years, 30 years to waste because we’ve left it too late.”

 

What’s the political fallout for May and Stewart?

Political scientist Hamish Telford says that while the arrests will likely neither boost nor hurt their political careers, it likely will raise the profile of the entire pipeline debate.

“When two MPs get arrested, it’s a national news story, particularly when one of them is party leader. Plus it bolsters the credibility of the protest.”

And he adds the coverage the arrest is getting puts more pressure on Prime Minister Trudeau.

“Now the prime minister has colleagues in Parliament getting arrested hammering home how deeply opposed this pipeline is in the Lower Mainland, especially in Vancouver, where the Liberals have a lot of seats.”

Telford says May and Stewart may have paved the way for more politicians to appear at the protest site.

One politician who hasn’t shown up yet is Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who back in 2014, declared he was going to put himself in front of a bulldozer in order to stop the project.