Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is still all smiles after after being found guilty of criminal contempt at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

UPDATED: Elizabeth May pleads guilty, fined $1,500 in pipeline protests

Federal Green Party Leader was one of more than 150 people facing criminal charges

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May pleaded guilty to criminal contempt on Monday, after protesting at a Kinder Morgan work site.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck also handed her a $1,500 fine, saying she had a higher responsibility than others who were arrested, considering her position as an MP, political party leader, and former lawyer.

May was charged along with Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart on March 23 for violating a court injunction that required protesters to stay five metres away from the Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby.

Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio pointed to aggravating factors, including May’s position of authority, in submitting the proposed $500 fine.

May’s lawyer pointed to mitigating factors including her lack of criminal record, her 40 years of public service and her willingness to plead guilty early.

May apologized through her lawyer, saying she “did not intend for her actions to be viewed as undermining the court.”

Affleck was unmoved by May’s apology.

“The law applies to everyone. Nobody is entitled to pick and choose the laws or the court orders that they will obey because they believe they have a higher obligation,” said Affleck.

“May exploited her role as a Member of Parliament and a party leader to encourage others to defy the injunction. I cannot accept a fine of $500 as recommended by the Crown and defence.”

May’s co-accused, Stewart pleaded guilty to his contempt charge in mid-May. He received a $500 fine.

Crown spokesperson Dan McLaughlin declined to comment on Stewart’s sentence at the time, but did say that convictions like his did not tend to produce a criminal record. Both May and Stewart will retain their roles as MPs.

The pair’s cases have been handled by two special prosecutors to avoid any perception of bias.

Speaking outside of court following her sentencing, May said she was “holding her head up high.”

“I clearly respect the rule of law,” May said.

“But in a democracy, there is room for non-violent civil disobedience.”

She denied Affleck’s accusation that she went to a public location for her anti-pipeline protest in order to draw media and public attention.

“I didn’t call the media for my arrest and I didn’t know media would be there,” May said.

“It was a personal decision, not intended to influence anyone else.”

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May talks to reporters after her conviction on criminal contempt charges. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

More than 150 other protesters are facing contempt charges. Trials have been ongoing since early May for those whose civil charges are being converted to criminal ones.

Crown lawyer Trevor Shaw, who is leading the prosecution for most of the accused, recommended fines of between $500-$4,500 and up to 14 days of jail time.

The sentences apply only to those pleading guilty.

May’s day in court comes just days before Kinder Morgan is set to announce its final investment decision on the controversial project on Thursday.

The company halted all non-essential work on the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion in early April, saying the B.C. government clearly did not support it.

Since then, amidst escalating legal battles between B.C. and Alberta, the federal government has promised to indemnify the pipeline’s investors against any losses.

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Garagellenium XX starts with pancake breakfast

Annual Oak Bay Garage Sale coming Saturday, June 8

Comic Con swings into town, June 9

Variety of cosplay prizes to be won from $100 – $450

Mayfair visitors can check out “Heartmelt Motel”

Cross-country pop-up exhibit stops in Victoria from May 29 to June 9

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Most Read