Pipeline protesting priests found guilty of civil contempt
Company saw to it two women found guilty of civil contempt, seeks legal costs, jail for them
After chaining themselves to a tree on Trans Mountain’s property on Burnaby Mountain, two activists have been found guilty of civil contempt of court and are now awaiting sentencing.
Trans Mountain is seeking seven days of jail time and payment for all of their legal fees.
Laurel Dykstra, an Anglican priest at the environmentally focused church Salal and Cedar, and Lini Hutchings, a member of her congregation, were arrested in May for breaching an injunction that barred protesters from coming within five metres of the property line.
Following the ruling in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday, Dykstra said that seven days of jail time was “in the range they expected” — but they are more concerned about paying Trans Mountain’s court fees, which could be in the hundreds of thousands.
Dykstra said she felt that Trans Mountain seeking the fees was a personal attack and a means of suppressing further protest.
“It feels targeted and feels like an intimidation tactic, where the public participation of regular folks expressing dissent is being threatened financially,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Crown dropped criminal charges against both women.
Trans Mountain pursued a civil contempt of court charge — a change in approach, after many people had already been criminally convicted for actions taken as they protested the pipeline expansion.
Prior to the ruling, a video taken on the day of their arrest in May was shown to the court, depicting both women chained to a tree.
Matthew Huys, attorney for Trans Mountain, argued that the property line was “clearly delineated” and that Trans Mountain had clearly posted copies of the injunction order along the fence.
Lini Hutchings and Laurel Dykstra await sentencing after being found guilty of breaching an injunction to stay five metres away from Trans Mountain property.