Anjali Appadurai, a candidate for the next leader of the BC NDP, appeared at an anti-Trans Mountain (TMX) rally this past weekend protesting the crossing of the pipeilne at the salmon-bearing Stoney Creek.
Roughly 150 people turned up to the Burnaby event on Saturday (Sept. 17), calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop the project, which included David Eby's challenger in the leadership race, which will be vacated by current Premier John Horgan later this year.
"I'm so grateful to be here among friends, among movement, among allies," Appadurai said.
"The climate is speaking to us in the language of heatwaves and wildfires and out-of-control ecosystem imbalances and disasters. We can't look away anymore. And we can't look away from what's happening to our ecosystems and we can't look away from what's happening to the most vulnerable among us.
"The way we've designed society is with the wrong priorities in mind. We're handing over money, resources and social license to private interests that don't care about the salmon. That don't care about this land that is part of us and that we depend on. Our priorities need to be on a different set of relations between our economy, our society and the land that we live on."
SFU prof sentenced for TMX tree-sit protest in June
SFU professor Dr. Tim Takaro "made his point" when he broke a court order and sat in a tree at a Burnaby Trans Mountain Pipeline worksite for three days last year.
That was how B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick put the case of Dr. Takaro on June 15 of this year, before sentencing the New Westminster resident to 30 days in jail.
Takaro had pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court in relation to events between Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, 2021.
He had occupied a tent suspended about 100 feet up in a tree inside a Trans Mountain worksite on the southern corner of Lougheed Highway and Gaglardi Way for three days before being arrested, according to agreed facts presented in court.
Crown prosecutor Ellen Leno said Takaro had broken a June 2018 B.C. Supreme Court injunction by violating a five-metre injunction zone around Trans Mountain worksites and by impeding TMX work.
She called for a 30-day jail sentence, citing the need to deter others from ignoring court orders.
But defence lawyer Neal Chantler argued Takaro should be allowed to serve his sentence in the community because he has a heart problem that could cause a heart attack if he were sent to jail.
Chantler noted Takaro had no criminal record and had never been charged with contempt before, although he had been involved in an earlier tree sit in Burnaby in September that only ended after police showed up.
Chantler also pointed to Takaro’s early guilty plea.
Chantler proposed a one-month conditional sentence order with 24-hour-a-day house arrest, followed by three months of probation with 120 hours of community work service.
Near the end of a sentencing hearing Monday, Takaro made a 15-minute statement, speaking at length about his efforts since 2014 to oppose the pipeline expansion as a physician, epidemiologist and toxicologist.
“I have the utmost respect for the court, but here in Canada we are in deep trouble, trouble that the UN secretary general calls moral trouble, because our fossil energy policies are exactly the opposite of what is required to reduce the numbers of people who will die from climate change. These environmental professional responsibilities and obligations led me to stay in the tree until Nov. 26.”
Rule of law
But Justice Fitzpatrick wasn’t convinced by the picture Takaro painted of his dilemma – or a court case he cited to support it.
During his statement, Takaro had quoted a 1994 B.C. Court of Appeal decision in the case of six people convicted of criminal contempt in relation to the Clayoquot Sound logging protests on Vancouver Island:
“A public and, as far as possible, passive act of resistance to a law that is perceived to be unjust, coupled with an embracing of the appropriate punishment for the offence, is consistent with the procedures for bringing about democratic change, and when properly understood indicates the highest respect for the rule of law as a benign and necessary part of the structure of a just and democratic society.”
Fitzpatrick, however, pointed out Takaro wasn’t exactly “embracing of the appropriate punishment for the offence” as others had done before him.
“To the contrary,” Fitzpatrick said, “Dr. Takaro now seeks a non-custodial sentence so that he may lessen the punishment of a jail term by staying in his comfortable home for 30 days with all its amenities and avoid the ordeal of jail time.”
Fitzpatrick also noted the decision Takaro had quoted was a dissenting opinion in the Clayoquot case which was not endorsed by the majority.
- with files from Cornelia Naylor, Burnaby NOW