More than one hundred people who have been arrested over the last week during dramatic protests against a tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia had their civil contempt charges thrown out by a Canadian court on Thursday, giving a legal boost to the movement that says it will continue to fight the dirty energy project by the Kinder Morgan corporation.
"If [Kinder Morgan] can’t even get GPS coordinates right, how are we going to trust them to ship oil through our port without an accident?" —Lynne Quarmby, Burnaby Mountain protester and arrestee
As the Vancouver Observer reports:
SFU molecular biology chair Lynne Quarmby beamed widely as Justice Austin Cullen announced at the B.C. Supreme Court that Kinder Morgan's request to extend the injunction date would be rejected, and said all charges of civil contempt for protesters arrested so far on Burnaby Mountain would be thrown out.
"It's fantastic!" Quarmby said, moments after the judge announced his decision. "It's a fabulous victory."
Drivers in cars passing by the court house honked their horns, apparently recognizing the professor, who was arrested last week protesting Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion.
"Trans Mountain's incompetence showed up very clearly in the court today...it's a shame you have to be fighting this battle on this level because of laws put into place in an omnibus bill in 2012. Laws that were favouring oil companies, removing all consideration of environmental concerns. All because of those, I've been fighting on the front lines."
For Canadians concerned about resource extraction and climate change, the ongoing protest at Burnaby Mountain has become just the latest battleground in a national fight to resist efforts by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the fossil fuel industry to build an enormous network of pipelines and other infrastructure projects.
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Thursday's ruling was a clear victory for those who will have arrests wiped from their record and no longer face the need to challenge the charges in court. The fight goes on, however, because the judge also allowed Kinder Morgan to re-submit accurate coordinates for the construction project and re-established an injunction zone to keep protesters out of the area where the work is being done.
As Quarmby told the Observer, "I wanted our public to recognize the extreme injustice happening in the degradation of the regulatory process. This was really apparent this morning as we saw all the...incompetency demonstrated by (Kinder Morgan) Trans Mountain. If they can’t even get GPS coordinates right, how are we going to trust them to ship oil through our port without an accident? They’re not giving much consideration to the public."
Earlier on Thursday, ahead of the court ruling, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs was among the last wave of protesters arrested at the site.
"We need to reclaim this country," Chief Stewart said before crossing the line, "and return it back to the voices of the people that have invested a lifetime of hard work to build this province."
The Kinder Morgan project would bore tunnels for tar sands pipelines through Burnaby Mountain, but First Nations, local residents, and climate activists have all come together and vowed to prevent that project from getting beyond the early stages.
The #BurnabyMountain hashtag continues to be used by those tracking developments of the ongoing fight against the Kinder Morgan project: