23 November, 2018 (Unceded Coast Salish Territories) — Two pipeline opponents were sentenced to jail today, after federal owned corporation Trans Mountain pursued charges previously dismissed by the Crown. Reverend Laurel Dykstra, an Anglican priest from the diocese of New Westminster, and Lini Hutchings, a parishioner, were sentenced to 7 days in jail on civil contempt charges and a $2,000 fine. The Crown Corporation Trans Mountain had sought an unspecified amount of legal costs.
Dykstra and Hutchings were arrested after they chained themselves to a tree outside the Trans Mountain terminal on May 25.
Reverend Laurel Dykstra of the Salal + Cedar Ministry said before sentencing: “Trans Mountain is threatening the bank accounts of regular people who disagree with them. After the Crown dropped charges against us, TransMountain picked them up and wants us to foot the bill for their corporate lawyers’ hourly rates and flights from Calgary. It’s vindictive, it’s targeted, and we won’t be intimidated.”
Lini Hutchings said: “Trans Mountain’s bullying is an offense to Canadians and will not succeed in discouraging opposition to a project that disregards Indigenous rights, public health and safety, our environmental targets, and common sense.”
The Crown dismissed the charges of criminal contempt without explanation in October, at which point Trans Mountain Corporation indicated if the Crown did not charge them, they would exercise Kinder Morgan’s right to demand punishment as holders of the injunction, asking for jail time and legal costs.
The two were taken into custody after Judge Affleck sentenced them to 7 days of jail and a $2,000 fine to be paid by both.
“The fact that Trans Mountain, as a Canada-owned corporation, is pursuing these charges, means that they are effectively going against the Crown prosecutors’ decision to withdraw charges. It is petty bullying,” said Sarah Beuhler, spokesperson for Protect The Inlet. “What’s worse is that the underlying certificate which grounded the injunction has now been quashed by the Federal Court of Appeals. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have to defend their decision to continue prosecuting these folks.”
The Federal Court of Appeals quashed the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project on August 30. Kinder Morgan’s injunction, which has been used to charge over 200 people, is being challenged in court but remains in place.
The province has tabled new legislation that would outlaw SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Had this legislation been in place last year, Kinder Morgan would not have been able to seek an injunction based on a spurious lawsuit.
Opposition to Kinder Morgan’s diluted bitumen pipeline and tanker project includes the Province of British Columbia, the State of Washington, the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Victoria and 19 other BC municipalities, as well as 350,000 petition signers and more than 27,000 who have pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop Kinder Morgan. In April 450+ British Columbian business owners signed a letter in support of BC Premier John Horgan’s opposition to the project and 230 civil society groups in 44 countries published a plea in May to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop making new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and stop supporting Kinder Morgan.