Anti-pipeline protesters have made a calculated effort to blockade two Trans Mountain work sites in Burnaby, says a British Columbia Supreme Court judge who expanded his injunction to include other work sites for the controversial project.
Justice Kenneth Affleck said Friday he would have some sympathy for people opposed to Trans Mountain’s application to vary his March 15 order prohibiting protests within a five-metre buffer zone, but an abundance of evidence indicates people have found ways to get around it and stop police from making arrests.
“In my view, the clear attempt to frustrate the injunction is not acceptable and there needs to be a means by this court to determine that its orders are respected,” Affleck said.
Those opposed have every right to protest, he said.
“They have a right to make their views known in a way that captures the attention of the world, if they wish to do so, but they are not entitled to block what is lawful activity.”
Dozens of protesters have been arrested since protests escalated last November. Many of those have appeared before Affleck this week to plead guilty to criminal contempt of court for violating the injunction and to pay fines or commit to community service. Others have yet to make court appearances.
Trans Mountain lawyer Maureen Killoran told Affleck that protesters have used a “workaround” to flout the injunction, which applied to the Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.’
Killoran said affidavits from two witnesses indicate protesters have been bent on maximizing disruption at the two construction sites by “tag teaming” to avoid arrest after police read them the injunction order and gave them a 10-minute warning.
She read Facebook posts of a group called the Justin Trudeau Brigade, which urges protesters to leave a blockade just before the warning time is up as they are replaced by another group and police have to read the injunction order again and the process repeats.
Killoran said an RCMP officer’s affidavit outlines how protesters at the Burnaby work sites have taken advantage of the 10-minute warning period and slowed down the enforcement process, resulting in fewer arrests, more work for police, and no repercussions for protesters.
“This is the mischief we are here to address,” Killoran said, adding protest organizers are committed to stopping Trans Mountain trucks from entering construction sites and aim to blockade other locations where the company might store equipment or have contractors working on the project.
She said activists have also climbed on top of a tunnel boring machine at a storage facility in Delta, B.C., so the injunction must be extended beyond the Burnaby work sites.
Affleck granted Trans Mountain’s request to enforce the five-metre injunction in other areas as well as allowing the company to post warning signs 10 metres from work sites.
Neil Chantler, a lawyer for one of 15 defendants named in a notice of civil claim, called Trans Mountain’s request to expand the injunction too broad and said the company was being hypothetical in assuming people would protest beyond Burnaby but had evidence only on the incident at the Delta facility.
“Trans Mountain is trying to get a carte blanche order that it may wield in the future wherever it chooses, much to the detriment and uncertainty of the general public,” Chantler said.
However, Killoran said there is nothing hypothetical about Trans Mountain’s intention to protect its work sites while continuing a project that the federal government has approved.
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press