The BC Supreme Court has granted an injunction requested by Kinder Morgan to prevent protesters from obstructing crews’ access to work sites on Burnaby Mountain.
Those who are camped out at the sites have until Monday, November 17, at 4:00 p.m. to clear out of the area, or they may face arrest.
Five protesters, including three current and past SFU professors, are also facing a multimillion dollar civil lawsuit brought by the Texas oil company.
Pipeline opponents gathered this morning at Burnaby Mountain Park to express their discontent with the decision.
Various people at the blockade took turns with a megaphone, speaking and singing out against the injunction. Some speakers indicated that they intend to stand their ground on Monday, even if they risk being arrested.
Brigitte DePape, activist and Council of Canadians representative, asked the crowd how everyone was feeling, to which one man replied, “Committed.”
“It’s not our political leaders that are going to make these changes. It’s going to be us, standing in front of these pipelines.”
Brigitte DePape, Council of Canadians
DePape referred to the Keystone XL Pipeline project that was just approved today by the US House of Representatives: “It’s really frustrating to hear the Keystone Pipeline being approved, but I think that just shows us that it’s not our political leaders that are going to make these changes. It’s going to be us, standing in front of these pipelines.”
The court transcripts outline the details of the injunction and the reasoning behind the decision to grant it.
One of the allegations made by Kinder Morgan in the injunction was that, in physically impeding workers and with snarling facial expressions, protesters were assaulting the surveyors. This has inspired a rash of ‘Kinder Morgan face’ posts on social media, where people post aggressive selfies with the hashtag “#KMFace.”
On the matter of the threat of assault, the judge concluded that it was legitimate, “given the misuse of the bullhorns, when coupled with the aggressive and threatening language, and the general and specific efforts to physically block the plaintiff’s representatives from accessing their work sites.”
The judge continued, “In other words, the plaintiff’s representatives were faced with either physical confrontation or retreat. They wisely chose the latter.”
“It’s not the way anyone in this world should be behaving right now.”
Stephen Collis, SFU professor of English
It was noted that the ruling was not made without dilemma: “The courts must be careful not to act in ways that dissuade concerned and engaged citizens from expressing their opposition to activities which they view as destructive of the social or political good.”
But ultimately, it was concluded that, in this case, the work to be done was largely “temporary” and “minimally intrusive,” causing no irreparable harm to the defendants.
SFU professor of English Stephen Collis is one of the defendants named in the injunction and, along with the other four, is currently being sued by Kinder Morgan for $5.5 million in damages. He was present at the site this morning with other pipeline opponents before heading over to SFU Burnaby to teach one of his classes.
Collis told The Peak, “This is of crucial importance. It’s important locally, to people that live here, work here, go to school here.
“The threat of oil spills and of damage to this park is all very real. It happens. It happened in 2007, here. In fact, this existing pipeline has had over 70 spills in 60 years.”
Collis also brought up the larger regional significance of the proposed pipeline project: “Here is this massive, massive project to bring the grossest, dirtiest, most carbon-producing oil in the world out of the Alberta tar sands, right under our feet. It’s ridiculous. It just shouldn’t be happening. It’s not the way anyone in this world should be behaving right now.”
He encouraged students to seek some understanding of the issue, which is taking place “literally just under our feet up here.” Referencing the anger expressed on the mountain that morning, he concluded, “I hope that students can tap into that and feel some of that moral outrage too.”