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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yellow Point Drama Group puts on socially distanced production of Grace & Glorie

There will be seven performances: three evening shows, and four matinees

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees receive assignments for year

School trustees appointed to Nanaimo-Ladysmith-area schools

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

B.C. Greens hurrying to get candidates in place for provincial election

No candidates announced yet in Nanaimo, Nanaimo-North Cowichan or Parksville-Qualicum

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Nanaimo RCMP seize firearms, ID, portable debit machine as ‘prolific offender’ arrested

Austin Carlson-McPherson, 24, accused of crimes in Nanaimo, Duncan, Port Renfrew and Sooke

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read