Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart convicted of criminal contempt in connection with pipeline protest

Another MP, Green Leader Elizabeth May, will be in court on May 28

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      The NDP MP for Burnaby South, Kennedy Stewart, has pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in connection with a peaceful protest outside Kinder Morgan's Burnaby facility.

      He and Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May were arrested on March 23 for violating a B.C. Supreme Court injunction prohibiting demonstrators from standing within five metres of the gate.

      Special prosecutor Michael Klein asked for a $500 fine to be imposed.

      May is due to appear in court on May 28.

      Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio has charged her with criminal contempt.

      Under B.C.'s charge-assessment standard, criminal charges must meet a two-part test. There has to be a "substantial likelihood of conviction" and the decision to lay a charge must be in the public interest.

      Until his death in 2002, one of the leading authorities on civil disobedience was John Bordley Rawls.

      A philosopher who was on the faculties of Harvard, Cornell, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is regularly cited in courtrooms in the United States and Canada.

      His 1971 book, A Theory of Justice, brought forth the concept of the "veil of ignorance" in determining the morality of political issues.

      According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Rawls also defended "civil disobedience as a public, nonviolent and conscientious break of law undertaking with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies".

      "On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as this shows their fidelity to the rule of law," the encyclopedia states. "Civil disobedience, given its place at the boundary of fidelity to law, is said to fall between legal protest, on the one hand, and conscientious refusal, revolutionary action, militant protest and organised forcible resistance, on the other hand."

      The B.C. Supreme Court justice who issued the injunction against Kinder Morgan protesters, Kenneth Affleck, asked the Crown last month to take over the prosecution.

      This came after he opined in court that the conduct near Kinder Morgan's Burnaby operations constituted criminal contempt.

      That led to the appointment of DelBigio and Klein by the B.C. Prosecution Service, which operates independently of Attorney General David Eby.

      Prior to becoming a judge in 2011, Affleck practised law with Affleck Hira Burgoyne LLP and Macaulay McColl.

      Among his clients were Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. in a landmark B.C. government lawsuit against the tobacco industry.