(Laurie Embree addresses media before her sentencing hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court, July 31, 2018. Embree was arrested in June for protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline project at the gates of Kinder Morgan. Submitted by Protect the Inlet)
A 70-year-old grandmother has been ordered to serve seven days in jail for blocking Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby, B.C. gates in opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Laurie Embree, a resident of 108 Mile Ranch located more than 400 kilometres north of Burnaby, learned of her sentencing Tuesday. She’s the first of nine activists facing jail time following their arrests in June.
In her statement to the court before sentencing, Embree said there have been “many times when our laws have supported injustices,” including slavery, child labour and the apprehension of Indigenous children.
“I truly believe that when we have laws that support injustices, it is the duty of all good men and women to stand up and challenge those laws,” she said, according to a press release.
Jean Swanson, an Order of Canada recipient and Vancouver City Council candidate, was also arrested for blocking the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal on June 30. She’s also facing up to seven days in custody and $5,000 in fines.
“I think it’s an unjust project – not only unjust, but a dangerous project – that we’re trying to stop,” she told APTN News. “It’s also a ridiculous expenditure of tax money to keep people who aren’t violent or doing anything bad – who are actually doing something good – in jail.”
Following opposition by the B.C. government and anti-pipeline activists, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for $4.5 billion, a transaction due to be finalized this fall. That doesn’t include the estimated $7.4 billion cost to twin the pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.
Swanson said she would rather see the Trudeau government spend that money on clean drinking water for reserves or invested in solar and wind energy projects.
Susan Lambert, former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, is also facing jail time for protesting the Trans Mountain expansion project. She told APTN she’s fighting for her grandchildren who risk being saddled with the effects of climate change.
(Susan Lambert addresses media before her first hearing on July 31, 2018 after she was arrested for blocking the gates of Kinder Morgan. Submitted by Protect the Inlet)
“For me, it’s a sad, sad day,” she said Tuesday, following Embree’s sentencing. “For me, personally, I am facing the same consequence, but I have to face that consequence because I took, knowingly, the action I took.”
At this point, she said, the country is faced with a “dilemma” – to fight the court injunction preventing activists from blocking Kinder Morgan’s gates or protest from the sidelines.
“We’ve done the political work, we’ve done protesting and none of it has had any affect. In fact, now, we are complicit. My tax dollars are going to help rescue Kinder Morgan from this project and have it ongoing,” she said.
Both Lambert and Swanson will learn of their sentences in the B.C. Supreme Court on Aug. 15.
According to Protect the Inlet, an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline activist group, more than 210 people have been arrested this year for defying the court injunction.
The pipeline construction is expected to escalate in August, and, according to Protect the Inlet, protests will heat up too.
The group said an “action” is planned at the tanker terminal on Aug. 1 at 8 a.m.