A B.C. Supreme Court judge has sentenced a protester convicted of violating an injunction at the site of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Burnaby to 60 days in jail.
The sentence, handed down June 16, came four months after the same Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick convicted Errol Povah of violating a court injunction, ruling he appeared to have the support of others; the injunction, issued by Justice Kenneth Affleck in 2018, prohibits people from entering within five metres of Trans Mountain work sites.
“Mr. Povah’s actions were very public, as he had planned. His intentions were clearly to cause as much interference as he possibly could in the circumstances,” Fitzpatrick said.
Trans Mountain is the pipeline company the federal government bought from Kinder Morgan in 2018 for $4.5 billion.
The offences happened at a worksite on Government Road in February 2022, Crown prosecutor Ellen Leno said.
The judge said Povah was in a vehicle that “roared up to the site.”
She said he jumped from the vehicle and sprinted across the site. He then attempted to attach himself to a piece of machinery using a device known as a sleeping dragon. Protesters use the hard-to-remove devices to lock themselves into place.
In convicting Povah, the judge said people at the scene described him as aggressive, agitated, confrontational and threatening. She found that he knew of the 2018 court injunction.
“He vigorously fought with the Trans Mountain security personnel who were trying to stop him, causing some injury to himself and the bruising of some personnel,” Fitzpatrick said. “His response had the very real possibility of escalating the physical conflict.”
Fitzpatrick asked Povah, a former Canadian navy member and retired BC Ferries worker, why he violated the injunction.
“I did it for the orcas primarily,” Povah said. “I strongly believe I did it because of the violation of Indigenous rights and title.”
He described himself as a lifelong activist, a word he said should not have the stigma attached to it that it does.
“Mr. Povah describes that he has been an activist his whole life,” Fitzpatrick said. “He has promoted a number of causes in the past and which he promotes now. It is obvious that protesting Trans Mountain’s pipeline project is one of them, arising from his views on environment and Indigenous issues.”