Jean Swanson defiant before sentencing for pipeline protest

Vancouver COPE council candidate arrested June 30 for a blockade against Trans Mountain expansion

Activist and Vancouver city council candidate Jean Swanson is expected to be sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court this morning after her arrest earlier this summer for a blockade at a Kinder Morgan facility.

Swanson was one of eight people arrested June 30 at the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm. She could face as much as seven days in jail and a hefty fine.

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“Every single person who takes a stand against the pipeline is pointing toward a more just future,” Swanson tweeted Wednesday morning. “If going to jail can be part of that resistance, so be it.”

At the time of her arrest, Swanson said she risked going to jail to condemn the federal government’s $4.5 billion buyout of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

“Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on an oil pipeline given the threat of climate change is not making Canada a better country,” she said in a statement.

Burnaby resident and former B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert was also arrested that day and is scheduled to be sentenced alongside Swanson this morning.

Both Swanson and Lambert were defiant during a pre-sentencing press conference.

They spoke surrounded by supporters, including Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart who pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt of court in May after being arrested while protesting the pipeline expansion. He was fined $500.

Swanson acknowledged she expected to be sentenced to jail.

“The pipeline we’re protesting today is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it’s contributing to global warming, it’s dangerous because it can spill on the land and the sea, and it’s dangerous because it’s trampling on Indigenous rights by going through Indigenous territory without consent,” she said. “Laws can be bad. Laws permitted slavery. Laws permitted the theft of Indigenous land. Laws [that] let the Trudeau government buy this pipeline are bad laws.”

Swanson said the billions being spent on the pipeline could be spent to save lives, be used to hire Alberta tar sand workers to build solar and wind power, be used to end homelessness in Canada or be used to put clean water on Indigenous reserves.

“We need to stop the pipeline like people stopped the clearcutting in Clayoquot Sound,” she said. “We’ve got one down and one to go. Kinder Morgan bailed, now we have to get Trudeau to bail.”


Former BCTF president Susan Lambert spoke during press conference before the court hearing where she
Former BCTF president Susan Lambert spoke during press conference before the court hearing where she received a seven-day sentence. Photo Jennifer Gauthier


Lambert said she was “quite daunted” about what the prospect of jail meant to her, describing herself as a law-abiding citizen who respects the rule of law.

“But I also know, through personal experience, that laws are sometimes unjust and sometimes unlawful. Right now, we have a standoff between the State and the people on the issue of the environment — an issue that affects all of us, the State and the people, and our children and their children,” she said. “What we are expecting — and I include myself in this because I drive a car — I think we’re expecting our children to clean up our mess and I think that that’s wrong.”

UPDATE: Both Swanson and Lambert received seven-day sentences. Read the details HERE.

With files from Naoibh O'Connor and the Burnaby Now


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