Nfld. & Labrador

Muskrat Falls worker turned protester faces contempt of court charge

The group of about 50 protesters who broke through Muskrat Falls’s main gate and began occupying the site are now appearing in court for breaking an existing injunction.

Court appearances are scheduled Monday and Tuesday

Craig Brown appeared on Monday. He'll be expected to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court at his next appearance later this month. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The group of about 50 protesters who broke through Muskrat Falls's main gate and began occupying the work site as part of a larger, 11-day protest against methylmercury contamination are now appearing in court for breaking an existing injunction.

"Everybody had to do what they had to do to make government listen," Craig Brown, one of three people summoned to court on Monday morning said.

"I guess it is what it is now."

Supreme Court Justice Alphonsus Faour oversaw the civil proceedings in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Monday.

He prefaced the appearances by saying "court doesn't have any interest in the issue that gave rise to these proceedings," adding that rulings will be based on "adherence and obeyance of orders."

The group that inhabited Muskrat's living quarters for four days starting Oct. 22 did so after a court order against trespassing was put in place.

Nine people had already been arrested based on the existing injunction.

Not facing criminal charges

Brown along with the two others who appeared before Justice Faour Monday morning have had their matters set over until Nov. 30.

None of the three had sought legal counsel at the time of their first appearance but all said they intended to before their next court date.

The group is not facing criminal charges at this point. At the next appearance, members will be required to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt of court. 

Worth it

The group of protesters called to court on Monday had shut down site ahead of the premier's marathon meeting with Indigenous leaders.

"If everything they came up with in that meeting is true, it is actually big news," Brown said about how the megaproject is set to proceed.

"If it changes the way dams are built across Canada … I'd be proud to say we helped make that happen."

'I had a lot to lose'

In addition to the contempt of court charge, Brown says his actions likely cost him his job at Muskrat Falls.

"I worked on site with Astaldi Canada, I'm a carpenter, and I worked with the powerhouse structure, building the powerhouse structure," he said.

"I had a lot to lose … I would say I'm fired, most likely."

The father of three consulted with his wife before taking part in the protest saying he felt "too guilty" to continue going to work on the project.

He says it will all be worth it if he's able to teach his kids how to hunt and fish.

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