Anti-pipeline activists arrested at Kinder Morgan site could be tried for criminal contempt

A group of supporters outside B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning with 28 people expected to appear in B.C. Supreme Court. Emily Lazatin / CKNW

Anti-pipeline activists who have been arrested at the Kinder Morgan site in Burnaby could be tried for criminal contempt of court, rather than civil.

This includes Members of Parliament Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart who were arrested at Kinder Morgan’s gates in Burnaby in March.

READ MORE: B.C. MPs Elizabeth May, Kennedy Stewart arrested at Kinder Morgan facility

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Last week, Justice Kenneth N. Affleck recommended that defendants be prosecuted for criminal contempt. He said the case was not about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project, but about demonstrators willfully breaking the law.

He said that it was a matter of criminal contempt of court, not of civil contempt, and that B.C. Attorney General David Eby’s office should manage the case.

Trial dates for the protesters will be set over the next two weeks and the order of trials will be determined by the date of arrest and will start mid-May. More than 170 people in total have been arrested for ignoring a court order to stay away from the construction site.

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The prosecution service said on Monday it has not reviewed all cases to determine whether it will pursue criminal contempt or stay at civil contempt charges against individuals.

As for May and Stewart, a special prosecutor has been assigned to handle their cases. They are asking for an adjournment of a few weeks to independently review each case, separate from other cases.

WATCH: Pipeline opponents set to unveil next steps after meeting held in Ottawa. Jordan Armstrong reports. 

Click to play video: 'Pipeline opponents set to unveil next steps'
Pipeline opponents set to unveil next steps

The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline project will expand the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby.

READ MORE: 1 officer kicked in the head, others hurt while arresting Trans Mountain protesters

The expansion is set to increase the capacity of oil products flowing from Alberta to the B.C. coast to 890,000 barrels a day from 300,000.

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More to come.

— With files from Emily Lazatin, CKNW

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