Re: Arrest of people protesting Trans Mountain Pipeline conducting the surveys identified by the National Energy Board (NEB).
The arrests of protesters on Burnaby Mountain by the Burnaby RCMP are dangerously wrong and potentially put us all in jeopardy. Deprivation of liberty is the most severe punishment available in our legal system. Police arrest powers must not be used to determine civil disputes or to prevent protests except where necessary to prevent grave harm to the uncontroversial rights of others. In this case the police rely on an injunction made in a lawsuit criticized as a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit and an NEB order under appeal and made by a process criticized as a sham intended to produce a predetermined result without considering the public interest.
The dispute in this case is between the public and a foreign corporation. Members of the public who are residents of Burnaby and British Colombia (the protesters) are acting in furtherance of their democratic rights, to protect the public interest. Trans Mountain (the corporation) is acting to maintain or increase profits for shareholders. The issue of whether Trans Mountain has the legal authority to conduct destructive activities on Burnaby Mountain in violation of municipal law has yet to be determined. That issue is currently before both the BC Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal. The City of Burnaby is appealing to the Federal Court of Appeal to set aside the NEBs order allowing Trans Mountain to carry out the destructive activities and is appealing to the BC Court of Appeal to overturn the BC Supreme Court dismissal of Burnabys application for an injunction to prevent those activities. In the meantime Trans Mountain filed a multi-million dollar damage action against the protestors and obtained the injunction upon which the police rely as authority for the arrests.
The right of Trans Mountain to conduct the destructive activities remains controversial and therefore cannot legitimize even a temporary loss of liberty for protesters. The rights of the members of the public to engage in peaceful protests are established and protected by Canadian and international law. The duty of the police is to uphold the law, in this case the rights of the protesters and leave it up to the BC Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal and possibly the Supreme Court of Canada to determine the rights of Trans Mountain.
Gail Davidson, 604 738 0338; 778 772 2232
Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada – LRWC
3220 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, BC CANADA, V6K 2V5
Tel: +1-604 736-1175
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Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.