Somany of the pipe line protesters at Burnaby Mountain simply don’t seem to understand the implications of court ordered injunctions. There should have been some sort of “Black Hole” for the protesters as there was in the Clayoquot Sound during the logging blockades. The Black Hole was a camping spot for the protesters willing to be arrested. Before arrest, we were told everything we needed to know about injunctions, specifically, about how injunctions are a judicial procedure rather than a law. This means that an injunction is an order handed down by a single judge.
Kennedy Stewart who was arrested alongside Elizabeth May on March 23, is of course, correct when he stated that contempt of court is “uncoded”. That means contempt of court isn’t in the Canadian criminal code. But what does that mean, it isn’t in the criminal code? What does it matter? It matters a heck of a lot.
The Canadian criminal code encompasses the entire body of law that has been developed for hundreds of years, slowly changing as it borrows from the legal statutes of other countries. I have great respect for the Canadian criminal code. It protects all citizens from arbitrary punishments by a single judge. But I have no respect for the judiciary of British Columbia who refuse to afford the protection of the criminal code for a special group of people…those who practice civil disobedience.
Instead of protecting the constitution and the rule of law, our BC judges give out injunctions to corporations that strip environmental protesters of this right of equal protection under the law. Under arrest by injunction the protester cannot put forth the argument of necessity before the judge because the only argument that judge will hear is one of: “Were you at the protest site? Did you refuse to move when ordered to do so by the police? Yes? Guilty of contempt of court, and if you object we may elevate that to Criminal Contempt”.
But how else could law enforcement bodies punish peaceful protesters who disrupt other claimants by their activities? By applying the criminal code, the way every other challenge to the law in Canada is addressed. For instance, what did the protesters actually do in Burnaby? They got too close to a corporation defined red line. Fine. That’s what the criminal code is for. If protesters were charged like all other citizens, they would probably be charged with mischief. Got in the way of a logging truck? Okay, arrest him or her for being a nuisance, for blocking a road; there are detailed punishments for these actions in the criminal code. And in this scenario the judge must hear arguments of necessity with some seriousness.
But, no. In the case of civil disobedience BC judges choose to bypass the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. They choose instead to use a special judicial expediency to favor one group of people (corporations) over real citizens who are concerned about our environment. They do this when they grant the applying corporation an injunction in the first place. The judges should be ashamed. BC is becoming known as the province that rules by injunctions. It’s a lazy way to apply the law and justice is never served when our judges appear to be so biased.