Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is 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.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BCHL: Bulldogs pick up one win on weekend road trip

Tanner Pochipinski earns first career BCHL goal

Steelhead, Huu-ay-aht submit plans for Kwispaa LNG Project

Total plan would cost $10 billion, last 25 years

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Port Alberni gets into the Halloween spirit at dog show

54th annual event drew dogs of all breeds—and their humans

New rules introduced to protect B.C. foreign workers from exploitation

More than 16,000 temporary permits issued last year

Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after concussion

Rookie is back practising after being sidelined by Florida defenceman Mike Matheson

UPDATED: 34 rescued off whale watching boat in Georgia Strait

Tour company says vessel experienced some kind of mechanical issue

Pipeline opponents blast Trans Mountain re-approval plan

Environmental advocates, First Nations leaders say NEB review has same flaws as it had before

Opioid crisis may be shortening British Columbians’ life expectancy: report

Canada among healthiest wealthy countries, but 8,000 overdose deaths since 2016 are causing concern

B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy

An arrest in the 1987 double-murder of two people from Victoria was one of three examples highlighted in a segment you can watch here

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Local businesses that go above and beyond honoured at annual gala

Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island Torch Awards go Nov. 2 at the Union Club

Most Read