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CN police retroactively arrest, serve fines for Burnaby TMX protests

Demonstrators blocked a CN railway on Nov. 27 and Nov. 17 in separate Extinction Rebellion actions
extinction rebellion protest
Zain Haq and another demonstrator speak with CN police at a demonstration on a railway in Burnaby on Nov. 27, 2020. Photo via Dustin Godfrey/Burnaby Now

A Vancouver-area spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion was retroactively arrested by railway police, facing allegations of criminal contempt of court for a recent demonstration in Burnaby.

Zain Haq was arrested on Monday, Dec. 7 by the CN Police Service, a private law enforcement agency owned by Canadian National Railway, for a Nov. 27 anti-Trans Mountain expansion protest at Government Street and Cariboo Road.

"Occupying private and public spaces is an essential step towards truly understanding what a democracy looks like,” said Haq in a news release. “CN’s current authority to make arrests as a private corporation should be challenged through mass action. It is impossible to frighten people who have declared a non-violent rebellion against the government."

In their demonstration, roughly 40 people blocked the railway just beside its crossing at Cariboo Road, the second such action on CN property in a month. Earlier in November, demonstrators occupied the tracks near the intersection of North Road and Highway 1.

Haq was arrested in Vancouver at an Indigenous-led ceremony near Crab Park, according to an Extinction Rebellion (XR) news release. Vancouver police were on scene to clear the ceremony off the road, and CN police showed up to arrest Haq. It's unclear how CN police knew Haq was at the event.

Haq, an undergraduate economics student at SFU, was also handed a fine, along with fellow XR spokesperson Maayan Kreitzman, a recent environmental science PhD graduate and former BC Green Party candidate, alleging infractions of the Railway Safety Act on Nov. 17.

In a news release, Extinction Rebellion noted both Kreitzman and Haq are often the most visible members of actions taken by the group, often speaking to the media on behalf of XR Vancouver. The group called the retroactive arrest and fines “an escalation of tactics on the part of police against peaceful demonstrators.”

“By picking off the more visible people in our group with fines and nonsensical charges, they are trying to intimidate and scare us,” said Kreitzman in a written statement. “But their intimidation won’t work – we’re just a couple everyday people who happen to be on XR’s media team at the moment, and we’re not going to hide. The group’s ability to function in solidarity with our Indigenous relations and call attention to the climate and ecological crisis doesn’t depend on just us. Building ecocidal fossil fuel infrastructure on unceded land must be prevented.”

It’s not the first time demonstrators against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have been retroactively targeted by police. Previously, Stacy Gallagher and Jim Leyden were picked out of a crowd protesting at the Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby using only surveillance, and arrested.

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