COPE council candidate Jean Swanson sentenced to seven days in jail for protesting Kinder Morgan pipeline project

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      Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate Jean Swanson will have to find surrogates to campaign for her for a short period.

      That's because the veteran antipoverty activist has been sentenced to seven days in prison for protesting against the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

      On June 30 Swanson violated a B.C. Supreme Court injunction ordering demonstrators to remain away from the company's Burnaby gates.

      Swanson is seeking a seat on Vancouver city council.

      She's the second candidate in the Vancouver election to be convicted of contempt of court for disobeying the injunction.

      The other person convicted was Kennedy Stewart, who's running for mayor as an independent. He received a $500 fine.

      Also sentenced to seven-day jail terms today were former B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert, as well as environmental protesters Charlotte Gyoba, Hisao Ichikawa, Heather Martin-McNab, Kathleen Flaherty, and Adrian Long.

      Five of the seven sentenced are senior citizens.

      Former B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert is also being sent to jail.
      Charlie Smith

      Read Jean Swanson's statement to the court

      COPE has released the following statement, which Swanson delivered in court this morning:

      "Two weeks ago, at the sentencing of Laurie Embree for protesting the pipeline, the crown said 'Canada is a country founded on the rule of law,' then someone from the gallery yelled out 'like stealing land from Native people?'

      "She was right to yell that out. At every point in the history of this province and this country, people had to choose between justice and injustice.

      "When settlers arrived, they were faced with the choice of respecting Indigenous culture and land, or of trying to destroy the cultures and steal the land.

      "They were faced with the choice of protecting the environment, or of plundering it, cutting down the ancient forests, and threatening the waters and sea life.

      "And they were faced with the choice of creating real equality, or of making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Now in Vancouver we have over 2,000 people sleeping on our streets, 40 percent of them Indigenous.

      "My late partner Sandy Cameron wrote a poem called 'We Need a New Map'. Part of it says:

      'Some people fear a new map, and
      they cling to the old one
      like flies to fly paper.
      But the old map leads to pepper spray
      tear gas
      and the end of the world.'

      "Too many people have used that old map that pointed toward injustice. But there have always been people trying to follow the map of social and environmental justice.

      "Indigenous people joined together to oppose the theft of their land, even when their meetings were criminalized and allies were 'deterred' from working with them on threat of jail.

      "Over 900 people joined together to protect Clayoquot Sound. Arrests didn’t deter them, and Clayoquot Sound still hasn’t been clear-cut because of them.

      "I’ve spent over 40 years working with others to get governments to reduce and end poverty, and to get more nice nonmarket housing.  

      "For 12 years the Downtown Eastside community has been fighting for housing that homeless people can afford at 58 West Hastings. But the government says it doesn’t have enough money for this.

      "Then Trudeau comes along and wants to spend $4.5 billion, maybe up to $13.8 billion, of our tax money on something that’s actually dangerous—dangerous to the planet because it will transfer fossil fuel to more markets to be burned when it should stay in the ground, dangerous to the land and the water because of inevitable spills, and dangerous to the whales because of pollution and noise from ships. And the pipeline tramples on Indigenous rights by moving through Indigenous territory without Indigenous consent.

      "That $4.5 billion could build 45,000 modular homes to house the homeless so they don't live only half the average life span. $4.5 billion could put safe clean water on Indigenous reserves. $4.5 billion could employ Alberta tar sands workers to build solar and wind power.

      "Why are the Crown and the courts so scared of us 'sinister seniors' that they have to throw us in jail? Because they know that if we take a stand against injustice, we can win.

      "This pipeline is the last gasp of the dying fossil fuel industry. Kinder Morgan decided it couldn’t go on, and if we keep protesting the Trudeau government will have give up too.

      "We don’t have to use the same old map of the settlers, the rich and the powerful. Every single person who takes a stand against the pipeline is pointing toward a more just future. If going to jail can be part of that resistance, so be it."