Pipeline protesters ask judge to set aside 'moot' Trans Mountain injunction

With the project in limbo, court order against blockades is no longer relevant, lawyer argues

A Lawyer representing environmental activists says the injunction meant to prevent protesters from interfering with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project should be set aside.

The injunction is no longer relevant since federal approval of the project was quashed in August and construction has since halted, lawyer Casey Leggett wrote an application to the Supreme Court of B.C.

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Two anti-pipeline activists, Karl Perrin and Mia Nissen, have asked Justice Kenneth Affleck to set aside the injunction and award no costs “in light of the public interest aspect of this application.”

Affleck granted the injunction on March 16, 2018, and then amended it at Kinder Morgan’s request on June 1.

It gives the Burnaby RCMP power to arrest individuals who blockade Trans Mountain’s Westridge marine terminal and the entrance to its Burnaby Mountain tank farm. 

Dozens of protesters have been arrested and charged with criminal contempt of court for violating the injunction. The first individuals convicted faced $500 fines or community service hours but sentencing has ramped up as the Crown has argued there needs to be deterrence to stop the blockades from repeating. 

Earlier this week, four women convicted of violating the injunction in August were released on bail pending an appeal of their 14-day jail sentences. Their lawyer argued the need for deterrence has vanished now that blockades have stopped as the project sits in limbo awaiting a new National Energy Board review and First Nations consultations. 

Leggett argues the entire injunction should be set aside for the same reason. 

“There is no longer a live controversy: the injunction is moot,” he wrote.

The original injunction was also granted on the grounds that protesters were doing “irreparable harm” to Kinder Morgan by delaying construction, causing the project to miss key deadlines and lose money.

“There, of course, cannot be irreparable harm caused to a project that can no longer be built and may never be built,” Leggett wrote.

In an emailed statement, a Trans Mountain spokesperson said: “The Injunction was put in place to allow our employees and contractors to safely carry out work. We will be presenting our legal argument regarding this Application to the court this week.”

The application is expected to be heard in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, Nov. 8.

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