POLITICS
03/23/2018 16:13 EDT | Updated 03/23/2018 19:28 EDT

Elizabeth May Arrested By RCMP At Kinder Morgan B.C. Pipeline Protest

Strong start to the weekend.

Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press
Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is arrested by RCMP officers after joining protesters outside Kinder Morgan's facility in Burnaby, B.C. on March 23, 2018.

OTTAWA Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has been arrested in Burnaby, B.C. for violating a court injunction keeping the public away from Kinder Morgan-owned properties.

The court order stipulates that activists must stay at least five metres away from terminal sites on Burnaby Mountain. May had joined protesters on Friday to rally against the expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.

RCMP escorted May away from the site, and also arrested Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart.

Both May and Stewart had held a banner that read: "PM Trudeau: Climate leaders don't build pipelines."

As part of a national day of action, organizers said 44 protests were planned at MP offices across Canada, in addition to the Burnaby rally.

Over 100 protesters have been arrested on Burnaby Mountain this week, according to organizers.

May said she's keeping a promise to fight the "disastrous, climate-destroying" project, adding that she's standing with the Tsleil-waututh, Squamish and Musqueum First Nations communities, who have been long challenging the pipeline expansion.

"I said I would stand in solidarity with the First Nations opposing Kinder Morgan and I am keeping my word," she said in a statement issued after her arrest.

In 2016, May said she was willing to engage in civil unrest and go to jail to fight against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

I said I would stand in solidarity with the First Nations opposing Kinder Morgan and I am keeping my word.Elizabeth May

Stewart released a statement on Facebook saying the assessment process the Trans Mountain pipeline was subjected too was "deeply flawed and unfair."

He said the project puts British Columbians at the most risk for little benefit.

"The prime minister broke his promise to revise the National Energy Board pipeline review process and require Kinder Morgan to resubmit its plans under this new process."

Prior to his arrest, Stewart said he was expressing his constitutional right to peaceful protest.

Feds introduced new rules for energy projects in February

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna proposed new environmental assessment rules last month.

If passed, the Impact Assessment Act will bring in a two-year deadline for major energy projects to be assessed and approved or rejected.

"Approvals were based on politics, rather than robust science," McKenna said at the time. "There were concerns that changes were putting our fish, our waterways and our communities at risk, and were not taking into account the climate impacts of projects."

The environment minister defended the need for new rules in resource development, adding how major projects planned for the next decade amount to $500 billion in investments.

Chris Helgren / Reuters
Cargo ship lie at anchor in English Bay outside the Port of Vancouver, which would see a seven-fold increase in the amount of oil tankers upon completion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline. Photo taken on Nov. 18, 2016.

Nick Didlick / Reuters
Indigenous leaders and environmentalists march in protest against Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline in southern British Columbia in Burnaby, B.C.

Despite the continued pushback against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, McKenna said Kinder Morgan's proposal would have been approved under the new rules — which require more scientific research and input from Indigenous communities.

"It's going to create good jobs. We need this project to go ahead," she said.

In February, the National Energy Board gave Kinder Morgan new approvals to start construction work at the base of Burnaby Mountain.

Indigenous leaders built a traditional Coast Salish wooden watch house near the pipeline route earlier this month to monitor project activity.

"My ancestors built Kwekwecnewtxw — "a place to watch from' — when danger threatened our people," Tsleil-Waututh member Will George said. "Danger threatens our people now, as Kinder Morgan tries to send hazardous diluted bitumen through our territory."

For years, opponents have warned how the project will put the land and waterways under and near it at risk of environmental disaster in the case of an oil spill.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is against the project, saying he wants it to undergo a thorough environmental review to assess what the risk is to the coast. His position prompted an inter-provincial dispute with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who banned the import of B.C. wine.

The proposal to expand capacity by twinning the current 1,147-kilometre pipeline — increasing current capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

The project was approved by the federal government last year.

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