Lawyer condemns arrests of Burnaby Mountain protesters while appeals are before courts

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A VANCOUVER CIVIL-RIGHTS lawyer says it’s “dangerously wrong” that protesters on Burnaby Mountain are being arrested while the courts are still evaluating the legality of a U.S.-owned energy company’s actions.

“There is the uncontroversial right of the citizens to protest, which is one of the key planks of a democracy,” Gail Davidson told the Georgia Straight by phone. “And the right of Kinder Morgan hasn’t been determined.”

Davidson said that she thinks that the Kinder Morgan subsidiary Trans Mountain Pipeline, is, in effect, “defying the court process” by conducting geotechnical survey work on Burnaby Mountain while the issue is before the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In addition, the City of Burnaby has asked the Federal Court of Appeal to set aside a National Energy Board order to allow Kinder Morgan’s work to proceed.

“They shouldn’t be going ahead with their basically irremedial activities,” Davidson said. “You can’t put the tree up after they’ve cut it down.”

As a result, she said that the uncertainty over Kinder Morgan’s legal right while these cases are being appealed does not justify any loss of liberty for the protesters.

Davidson also said that she doesn’t blame the RCMP for what’s happening. “I think the police were trying to be careful, so I’m not really faulting them so much as the pressures that are brought to bear upon them.”

Meanwhile, SFU professor Lynne Quarmby was among eight demonstrators arrested yesterday This came after 26 were taken away on November 20.

They’ve all been charged with civil contempt of court, according to the Mounties.

The RCMP has issued a statement on its website saying that Centennial Way at the Burnaby Mountain Parkway will remain closed.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @csmithstraight.