By Roy L Hales
The arrests began on Burnaby Mountain. Police pushed the protestors back to the “legal protest” zone on Thursday. Twenty-six were arrested. David Suzuki’s grandson, Tamo Campos, and at least two members of the Squamish Nation were among them.
Today was more peaceful. There were around 150 people, ten of which walked across the tape line so they would be arrested. Simon Fraser Professor Lynne Quarmby, Ruth Walmsley of B.R.O.K.E, and Kevin Washbrook of Voters Taking Action against Climate Change were taken.
Just before she walked forward to be arrested, professor Quarmby said, “Canadians deserve a government that will address climate change. The fact that people are not allowed to talk about climate change in the pipeline hearings is evidence that the process is broken and corrupt.”
she added, “The NEB process is now a sham…We have a process that does not allow consideration of climate change…at a time that climate change is the biggest problem facing humanity. It’s unethical. The new NEB Act is written as requested by the oil industry.”
According to Gail Davidson, of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, the RCMP should not be intervening on Burnaby Mountain:
” … Police arrest powers must not be used to determine civil disputes or to prevent protests except where necessary to prevent grave harm to the uncontroversial rights of others. In this case the police rely on an injunction made in a lawsuit criticized as a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit and an NEB order under appeal and made by a process criticized as a sham intended to produce a predetermined result without considering the public interest.”
“The dispute in this case is between the public and a foreign corporation. Members of the public who are residents of Burnaby and British Colombia (the protesters) are acting in furtherance of their democratic rights, to protect the public interest. Trans Mountain (the corporation) is acting to maintain or increase profits for shareholders. The issue of whether Trans Mountain has the legal authority to conduct destructive activities on Burnaby Mountain in violation of municipal law has yet to be determined. That issue is currently before both the BC Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal. The City of Burnaby is appealing to the Federal Court of Appeal to set aside the NEB’s order allowing Trans Mountain to carry out the destructive activities and is appealing to the BC Court of Appeal to overturn the BC Supreme Court dismissal of Burnaby’s application for an injunction to prevent those activities. In the meantime Trans Mountain filed a multi-million dollar damage action against the protestors and obtained the injunction upon which the police rely as authority for the arrests.
“The right of Trans Mountain to conduct the destructive activities remains controversial and therefore cannot legitimize even a temporary loss of liberty for protesters….”
Only three of the protesters are thought to still be in custody. Everyone else signed an agreement stating they would not reenter the off limits area. They are also to appear in court during January. Three First Nations demonstrators refused.
A series of notices on the Trans Mountain website give their perspective of these events:
- November 17: “Around 2:30pm … a group, including Process Servers and Trans Mountain representatives, went to Burnaby Mountain to read out the injunction and enforcement order to individuals assembled at two work locations for the field studies for the Expansion Project.”
- November 20: “As of 12:45 p.m. today, Trans Mountain staff and contractors have arrived at Burnaby Mountain to begin preparing the work sites for our geotechnical field studies. Trans Mountain is pleased that the majority of the individuals occupying the area complied with the order and continue to exercise their rights to express their views in a respectful manner, while allowing our team to begin the work safely…
- November 21: “Drilling equipment arrived at the work site this afternoon and drilling began at one of the test-hole locations at 4:45 pm PST. Drilling will continue throughout the night. Earlier today, property of the protestors in the area was respectfully removed and relocated away from the work site.Crews, work trucks and equipment will be moving on Burnaby Mountain throughout the weekend, and the work site will continue to be monitored by the RCMP to ensure safety of our workers and others in the area.”
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan issued a press release, which deserves to be quoted in full:
“The City of Burnaby opposes the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project and is determined to stop Kinder Morgan from carrying on destructive work in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, as part of its application to the National Energy Board. Our efforts to date are documented on the City’s website. We are currently involved in provincial and federal court proceedings and we will continue to seize every legal opportunity available to us in order to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline, tank farm and loading docks are never built.
“Given the serious flaws in the National Energy Board’s approval process, we are relying on the court system to examine the NEB decision regarding its own authority to override City of Burnaby by-laws and we are insisting on our right to reject any intrusion on our public park. Meanwhile, I encourage all Burnaby citizens and supporters not to do anything that will place them in harm’s way or subject them to arrest or law suits. In addition, I do not want our police officers to be hurt or abused for doing what they are required to do by order of the Supreme Court of B.C. They are not there because they support the court decision. They are there because of their professional duty to uphold the peace and enforce the law. Please trust that the City of Burnaby and other cities across the Lower Mainland are going to represent the interests of our citizens and we will continue to do so to the highest courts in Canada. You are not alone in your desire to stop this pipeline project, but we can lose public support by exceeding the bounds of peaceful dissent.
“I know that many of you want to bear witness to what is happening on Burnaby Mountain and we appreciate your passionate feelings about our park and the damage this project would do. We have been told by the RCMP that they will respect everyone’s right to protest peacefully, but they are obliged to prevent interference in the work allowed by the Supreme Court of B.C. I appeal to everyone at Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area to keep calm and let us work on behalf of our citizens to stop this project.”
“Thank you to all our supporters for their deep interest in this important issue and for the commitment they are showing. I continue to believe that the Kinder Morgan expansion project will be rejected, not only by the City, but also by the citizens of the province and the country.”
The definitive issues of this conflict are respect for the collective will of the people of Burnaby, and of British Columbia, as much as opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline or Climate Change. There is no doubt about public opinion in Burnaby, where polls showed 70% of the population support the City in its battle with Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan. Mayor Corrigan was reelected by about the same margin. Most of BC appears to be opposed to the pipeline.
The Tsleil-Waututh, Musqeam and Squamish First Nations all claim Burnaby Mountain as part of their traditional territory.
“There are so many citizens willing to put their lives on the line, willing to go to jail and be charged, for something that’s really important,” said Charlene George, a spokesperson from the Squamish and Musqueam First Nations. “Kinder Morgan and the Federal Government cab not come through here and bulldoze over our collective rights and title.”
“This project threatens the ecological and cultural health of the region and and all of its communities,” said Charlene Aleck, a councillor for Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. “It’s not just a Tsleil-Waututh issue or an aboriginal rights issue. This is everyone’s issue: residents of the Lower Mainland, local and regional governments, the environmental community and all First Nations should all be concerned.”
“In our shared opposition to Kinder Morgan, we are many people paddling one canoe. Our united opposition and the sum of our collective voices will ensure this pipeline is never built.”
According to Trans Mountain:
“The work requires drilling two six-inch test-holes, approximately 250 metres in depth. The work will be conducted 24 hours per day for 10 to 12 days. When the field studies are completed, Trans Mountain is committed to minimizing any impacts and restoring, or compensating, for any disturbance to Burnaby Mountain. Ultimately, if the Project is approved, there will be no surface disturbance on Burnaby Mountain because the tunnel, at its deepest point, will be approximately 160 metres below surface.”
On Saturday the protesters will be meeting again at the foot of Centennial Way at 10:30 am.
Links of interest:
- City of Burnaby’s Kinder Morgan page
- Burnaby Pipeline Watch Website
- Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion FaceBook
- The ECOreport more articles under the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Forest & Trans Mountain Pipeline Hearings tabs.
- Trans Mountains Website
(Photo at top of page: Rally against the proposed Kinder Morgan oil pipeline on Burnaby Mountain. Monday, November 17th, 2014 – Courtesy Mark Klotz, CC By Sa, 2.0)