Elizabeth May pleads guilty to criminal contempt for pipeline protest

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to criminal contempt for her role in a Trans Mountain pipeline protest and has been ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.

The Green Party leader must pay $1,500 fine for arrest at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Mountain facility

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was arrested in March at a protest against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to criminal contempt for her role in a Trans Mountain pipeline protest.

It was agreed by the special prosecutor and the politician's lawyer that she should pay a $500 fine.

But — despite May's apology through her lawyer for her actions — Justice Kenneth Affleck said $500 was not enough. He ordered her to pay a $1,500 fine.

The judge said May had exploited her office for media attention, so a stiffer penalty was warranted.

He noted that she has a position of influence, and her actions might sway others to breach court orders.

Outside court, May said she accepted her penalty and reassured people that the offence was not listed under the Criminal Code, so  it would not affect her ability to travel or work as a member of Parliament.

"I'm not a convicted criminal," said May.

She was arrested March 23 for violating a court injunction by blocking a road at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Mountain facility.

May and Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were among dozens of people who were arrested in March for getting within five metres of a Kinder Morgan work site.

Stewart pleaded guilty to the same charge and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.

The $7.4-billion project twins an existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby — almost tripling its capacity.

May took questions from reporters after leaving the court on Monday, May 28. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Crown prosecutors are asking the court to ramp up penalties against repeat Trans Mountain protesters. Those who plead early get a lower fine, but those who go to trial or repeatedly breach the court injunction could face up to a $4,500 fine or up to 14 days in jail for repeated breaches.

May said she did not regret her actions but would not be breaching a court order again.

Outside court, May predicted that by May 31 — this Thursday — Kinder Morgan would pull out of the pipeline expansion project.

She accused the company of holding the Canadian government to ransom to get protections from losses on a pipeline project she says the company planned to cancel long ago.

"They are kidnappers who took a hostage, not to get the ransom, but to kill the hostage," she said.