Anti-poverty advocate and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson was defiant as she prepared to serve jail time. She'd broken the law for violating an injunction while protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
"I’m dressed for jail. I have thick socks for shackles," said Swanson, who is running for city council in Vancouver's upcoming municipal election. "I have a jacket for a cold basement. I have a lightweight blouse for a hot four hour car ride.”
Seven taken into custody for protesting Trans Mountain pipeline
She and former B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert spoke at a news conference that was held outside of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Swanson, 75, Lambert, 68, Sachiko Gyoba, 74, Hisao Ichikawa, 77, Heather Martin-Mcnab, 57, Kathleen Flaherty, 66, and Adrian Long, 30, were taken into custody this afternoon to face a seven-day jail sentence.
They were all arrested on June 30 for blocking the construction site at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Mountain tank farm. The women expressed opposition to the Texas-based energy giant's $9.3 billion project, which the federal government has agreed to purchase in order to assure its completion. If built, Trans Mountain would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline to ship up to 890,000 barrels per day of heavy oil from Alberta to the west coast through a slightly modified route. Proponents say the project will bring jobs and economic growth to Alberta and B.C., while critics say it will push Canada's climate goals out of reach.
Former NDP MP and current mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart, who did not deliver any remarks, also showed support to the women at the press conference this morning. He was arrested in March along wtih Green MP Elizabeth May for violating Kinder Morgan's injunction.
Swanson questions the laws allowing Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion
Speaking to reporters, Swanson criticized Ottawa's multi-billion dollar purchase of Trans Mountain assets from Kinder Morgan.
“Laws can be bad,” Swanson said. “Laws permitted slavery. Laws permitted the theft of Indigenous land. The laws that let the Trudeau government buy this pipeline are bad laws.”
Lambert added, “I respect the rule of law. But I also know, through personal experience, that laws are sometimes unjust, and sometimes unlawful. And right now, we have a standoff between the state and the people on the issue of the environment.”
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi commented on Thursday that the project was, in their view, in the "national interest."
"The right to peaceful protest is at the foundation of our rights and freedoms in Canada and we respect that right," he said in an email. "We accept a diversity of views and opinions with respect to Canada’s energy future, but we expect people to express their views peacefully and in accordance with the law.
We remain committed to working with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples to ensure a strong economy while taking leadership on the environment.
Our goal now is to ensure this project moves forward to create economic benefits for Canadians. We would not have approved this project if it were not in the national interest."