A Victoria man charged with mischief after a February protest outside the home of B.C. Premier John Horgan signed a 24-month peace bond last week, agreeing to stay away from the premier, his wife and their Langford home.
Howard Gerard Breen was arrested Feb. 18, along with Regine Monika Klein and Mark William Nykanen, when members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island, a group opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline expansion project, brought their protest to the driveway of Horgan’s private residence. Members of the group said they had planned to attempt a “citizen’s arrest” of the premier to show support for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
West Shore RCMP said the trio were arrested after refusing to leave an “exclusion zone” set up by police.
Victoria lawyer Dirk Ryneveld was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case on March 5. In August, Klein and Nykanen signed the $500 peace bonds. Breen initially elected to go to trial, but changed his mind and signed the peace bond on Friday.
Before Breen signed the court document, provincial court Judge Ron Webb emphasized to Breen that any breach of the terms of the peace bond could result in criminal charges.
Ryneveld told the court that at about 8 a.m. on Feb. 18, Eleanor Horgan phoned 911 because there were protesters outside her home.
“There were about 25 people and some people were banging on her door and they had been there about 10 minutes,” said Ryneveld. “She was alone in the residence and she was scared because there was quite a commotion going on at the end of her driveway. She needed to leave her home, but of course, her exit was blocked.”
About 10 police officers responded, and most of the protesters and the press dispersed when the police told them to leave. “Three of the individuals, the three named in the information, said they were not going to go,” said Ryneveld, adding the three were warned they would be charged if they didn’t leave. “They were arrested because they refused to leave.”
Nykanen and Klein were lying on their backs with their arms secured to each other with a metal pipe. Breen was sitting on the edge of the driveway immediately behind them, he said.
Breen had two large zip ties in his hand and said he was there to make a citizen’s arrest of the premier.
The judge noted that both Klein and Nykanen, who were in the courtroom, were shaking their heads while the circumstances were being read into the court record. “I just ask everybody to maintain a sense of decorum,” said Webb.
Breen disagreed with Ryneveld’s version of events, saying there was no banging on the door and of the seven people there, only three were demonstrating.
Ryneveld countered that he had also seen a video of the incident showing a lot more than three people protesting.
Breen has agreed to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and have no contact with Eleanor or John Horgan or go within 100 metres of their home, school, work or place of worship.
He is allowed, however, to send emails to the premier solely for the purpose of engaging in peaceful political protest or political commentary. Similarly, Breen can go to the legislature to engage in peaceful protest or political commentary.