Arrested MPs might pay in court, but not at the ballot box: lawyer
A pair of federal MPs arrested in Burnaby on Friday for violating a court injunction at an anti-pipeline protest might feel the legal consequences, but probably not the political ones.
That’s according to Vancouver criminal lawyer Paul Doroshenko, who says Green leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart will get the same treatment in the courts as everyone else.
The pair were arrested Friday afternoon along with 23 other people outside Kinder Morgan’s facility on the 8000-block of Shellmont Street on Burnaby Mountain.
Both May and Stewart were live on the phone with CKNW’s Lynda Steele when they were arrested.
LISTEN: Lynda Steele speaks to May and Stewart as they get arrested
“They won’t get any special treatment, I mean the court’s going to treat them the same as anyone else, and there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be in similar circumstances because a bunch of people have been arrested and have been charged in relation to violating this court order,” Doroshenko told Global News.
More than 100 people have now been arrested attempting to block construction at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby facility.
However, while Doroshenko said that May and Stewart will have the same court experience as other protesters, possibly ending with a criminal record, he said they’re unlikely to pay the price at the ballot box.
WATCH: Federal Green Party leader’s arrest at Kinder Morgan facility
A conviction alone won’t impact an MP’s right to sit in the House of Commons. In past cases like that of NDP MP Svend Robinson, who was caught stealing a ring, or Reform MP Jack Ramsay, who pleaded guilty to indecent assault, the crime was enough to taint their political reputation and ensure defeat at the ballot box.
Doroshenko says in this case, the MPs may actually benefit from their arrest.
“Will it damage them politically? I would be surprised if it did, because I think probably the people that voted for them sort of expect them to put their money where their mouth is,” he said.
“I certainly don’t think it hurts their chance of being re-elected. Because the people who vote for Elizabeth may expect her to take a strong stance.
“I still would encourage her to abide by the law.”
If the MPs are convicted, they’re unlikely to see any jail time. An anti-pipeline protester who was convicted in 2016 of assaulting a Kinder Morgan contractor, for example, was given a suspended sentence and 15 months probation.
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