30 October 2018, Unceded Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver, BC): Four women were just sentenced to 14 days in jail and taken away by bailiffs after blocking construction at a Trans Mountain pipeline Burnaby construction site in August.
Kathryn Cass (66), Deb Wood (64), Kira McLean (24), and Brenda Morrice (57), pled guilty to criminal contempt on October 19th after being charged with violating a court-ordered injunction meant to protect construction on the pipeline and tanker project.
Defence lawyer Donna Turko is appealing all four sentences and will be working to have Protectors released on bail pending appeal. She is anticipating a possible bail hearing with the BC Court of Appeal as early as tomorrow morning.
On October 19th, the judge reserved sentencing until October 30th after a request from defense counsel for a written ruling in order to appeal any custodial sentence.
Despite the August 30th Federal Court of Appeal ruling that quashed the approval of and stopped construction on the federal pipeline project, Protectors who blocked Trans Mountain construction sites in late August are still subject to the Crown Prosecution Services recommendation of up to 28 days in jail to prevent more protest.
There are now 20 Protectors who have already served, or are serving, jail time for their opposition to the pipeline, including Order of Canada recipient and Vancouver councillor Jean Swanson. Since March, over 240 people have been arrested while blocking construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project.
“On August 24th, I defied an injunction granted by the Canadian court while I was on unceded land belonging to Coast Salish Nations,” said Kathryn Cass outside the BC Supreme Court on October 19th. “In my heart, I was following laws that have been in place long before my European ancestors occupied this land. It is my understanding that those laws include taking care of the health of our land and water.”
From April until June, penalties for blockading Kinder Morgan’s gates consisted of increasing fines and community service, until the Crown Prosecution Service petitioned the court for sentences of jail time to deter Protectors from taking action. The Crown Prosecutor Monte Rattan argued in June that senior citizens willing to be arrested for civil disobedience constituted a “sinister challenge to the authority of the court.”
After the Federal Court of Appeal ruling on August 30th that quashed construction on the pipeline and tanker project, Protectors argued in court that the Crown’s jail deterrent should no longer stand, as there is no longer any basis to re-offend. The court has rejected that argument, and continues to send Protectors to jail.