Welcome, visitor!   Register   Login

Post an Ad
Menu Post an Ad

Thoughts on My Trial

    Governance & Politics    November 7, 2018

This last March 23rd, I was arrested protesting in front of Kinder Morgan’s gate in Burnaby — now Trans Mountain Corporation, bought by all Canadians in August for $4.5-billion. I wrote an Exchange piece, published on March 29th, called  “Thoughts on My Arrest”. Time for an update.

In Vancouver’s B.C. Supreme Court last week, I represented myself, pleading not guilty. My trial ran from Monday to Friday, with more to come, resuming on March 12th. There were three other arrestees pleading not guilty, represented by three lawyers. This graphic shows the layout and seating in the impressive, red-carpeted Courtroom 20, specially built for the Air India trials.

Becoming a criminal-defence lawyer almost overnight has been a lot of work, but I think I’ve done okay. Judge Affleck (who wrote the Injunction Order I’m accused of breaching) is required to help self-represented defendants. People who’ve watched many of these trials from the public gallery told me that he was more attentive and respectful to me than they’d seen before. This has no bearing on my case, but a kindness in itself that I appreciate.

The power and strictness of our legal system was clear, and I like it. I also like the courtly ‘dance’ of proceedings. While the drafting and implementation of laws always need improving, it’s the cornerstone of our freedoms, the price of which is eternal vigilance. Countries lacking such open and firm legal basics are scary messes.

The point of my protest was to make a statement, in solidarity with the First Nations’ organizers, which I did on March 23rd. I spoke to this briefly when testifying, but the point of my trial was to make a legal case.

I was arrested (not charged; that’s for the court to determine) for civil contempt of court, but I’m being tried for criminal contempt. This is good. It’s a Common Law offence, not Criminal. The ‘criminal’ term raises the burden of proof on the court to the Criminal Law level, to prove my guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The test is my “guilty mind”, that I intended to break the law, not just that I acted in such a manner.

My entire protest was predicated on staying off Kinder Morgan’s land. Private property rights are serious, truly criminal offences, and KM is a Texas oil giant run by ex-Enron executives, not known for playing nice. The thought of putting even a foot on their property repels me.

I saw no property line posts anywhere around the main entry gate, and it came clear in court that, although Trans Mountain was required by the Injunction Order to “clear mark and delineate” its property line, it had failed to do so that day and for weeks after. The RCMP used the gate and fence as the property line, some 24 metres into the site, a mistake that the Site Commander confirmed.

This last May, however, the judge had already deemed that this didn’t matter. I’m charged only with obstructing Trans Mountain traffic from accessing the terminal. I had no opportunity to show my intentions to make way for TM traffic to pass, because none showed up that day. In court, I learned that RCMP vehicles blockaded TM vehicles from getting near the site. Thus, everyone by the site was obstructing, whatever their intentions, hence breaching the Injunction Order.

For nearly 3.5 hours, I stood at the street end of the driveway helping to hold up a large banner, led to believe by the RCMP that I was well off TM’s land. I counted 22 officers on duty, all of whom watched us break the law for hours without warning us that they could, as the Site Commander confirmed in court, arrest us wherever we stood, on private land and – unbeknownst to us – also on public roads.

The Injunction Order covers “all roads leading directly and indirectly to Trans Mountain sites”, meaning that any protester can be arrested for obstructing on any public road throughout B.C., regardless of any visible TM traffic being blocked, as long as TM says it was, with no burden of proof but its word. Really.

Had the property line been marked as required, my protest would have been entirely different. I can’t say in what ways, because I would have decided as the day unfolded. Those implementing the Injunction Order failed me, but I was expected to be smarter and more expert, in every detail, than they were. I face all of the consequences of being misled, while the taxpayer picks up the large and growing tab.

Will I be found guilty? We’ll know in March. If so, there may be grounds for appeal. If not, then appeal is ruled out. Regardless of the outcome, Trans Mountain can still take me to court seeking a fine and all costs, operational and legal. They’re doing this right now to Lini Hutchings, whose parents live on Salt Spring. She was arrested in early March by the Trans Mountain gate, before the Injunction Order was in place, then arrested in May for chaining herself to a TM tree. Charges were dropped, but still, this Wednesday, November 7th, she’ll be in court to face charges laid by Trans Mountain, looking for stern punishment and a large fine. “Sunny ways” comes to mind. “Sunny ways, my friend.”

New case-law precedence is being set with all this, which will affect every Canadians’ right to lawful, peaceful, safe protest for long years to come. What to do about it? I have the good fortune, as I see it, of being able to address it through my trial, which continues in March.

In the meantime, thank you, from the fullest of heart, to the many fabulous Salt Springers who have been supportive, in myriad kind ways, on this intense and strange journey.

Comments May Not Be Seen by the Author

No Tags


Post an Event

Community News

  • Country Grocer Starting a Free Saturday ...

    by on 10 hours ago

    Country Grocer will be starting a FREE Saturday shuttle this weekend May 25th. The free shuttle will run from 9:30am – 3:30pm between Centennial Park, Rainbow Road Pool and Country Grocer. Sandwich boards will be placed at pick up locations with the pick up at Centennial Park being located in the “no parking on Saturdays” […]

  • Island Pathways Receives $18,500

    by on May 22, 2019

    Last Wednesday evening, 100+ Women Who Care Salt Spring Island gathered in the ArtSpring theatre for its third meeting. And something interesting happened… One of the three charities randomly drawn during the meeting, from the 18 that had been nominated, had been drawn before but hadn’t been voted to receive the funds. Back into the […]

  • Winter Cabbage, Irrigation Tips, Beet Le...

    by on May 20, 2019

    From now on, continue to be alert for heat waves and be prepared to shade seedbeds and seedlings and to mulch plants to cool the soil. The heat wave earlier this month resulted in injury to unprotected seedlings that is showing up now. Heat injury appears as white or biscuit coloured patches on leaves; whole […]

  • Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue Respond t...

    by on May 17, 2019

    Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue responded to an early morning structure fire in the 100 blk of Thomas Road. The initial call came in at 04:37 and crews completed the scene at 08:00. 25 Firefighters responded with 19 on scene; 4 fire trucks and 3 support vehicles along with BC Ambulance and BC Hydro. On […]

  • $1.5 Million Approved for First Stage of...

    by on May 16, 2019

    The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation has approved $1.5 million in initial funding for the proposed Lady Minto Hospital Emergency Department expansion and redevelopment project. Members of the Hospital Foundation voted at a special general meeting May 16, 2019 to fund the proposed project’s schematic design and design development stages, “This is an important step forward […]

  • Increasing Cost of Fuel Leads BC Ferries...

    by on May 16, 2019

    BC Ferries is advising customers that due to current fuel market conditions, the company will implement a fuel surcharge of 1.5 per cent on June 1. BC Ferries closely monitors the cost of fuel and applies a rebate or surcharge, or neither, under a regulatory process that is independent of fares. Here is an example […]

  • Growing Community Concern about Legion R...

    by on May 15, 2019

    A week before the April 30th Salt Spring Local Trust Committee meeting, islanders learned that a 144-foot tall Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) radio tower was in the final stages of approval for construction at the Legion in Ganges, and that 4G and eventually 5G cellular antennas would likely be added to this tower. […]

  • Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne visits Salt S...

    by on May 15, 2019

    If you’ve been to Tofino in the last couple of years you will know that it’s a cool place. Not only are the beaches and the surfing and the mountains excellent, but the community looks to be thriving. Local government clearly has done well, not only in fostering a strong economy, but also at preserving […]

  • History of the Salt Spring Island Golf C...

    by on May 14, 2019

    March 23, 1928, saw a public meeting at Mahon Hall. Thirty-three people attended with the intention of forming a golf club. With W.E. Scott in the chair, K. Butterfield undertook secretarial duties. It was announced that a committee which had been appointed by the Salt Spring Island Development Association had been exceedingly busy. ‘Barnsbury’, the […]

Pin It on Pinterest