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BCCLA reacts to injunction decision on Burnaby Mountain protest

VANCOUVER – Carmen Cheung, senior counsel at the BC Civil Liberties Association, reacted today to the judgment from the BC Supreme Court granting an injunction in relation to the protest on Burnaby Mountain against test drilling by Kinder Morgan:

“With respect, we are concerned that certain aspects of the court’s language are insufficiently clear and may create a chilling effect on freedom of expression for demonstrators in the future. While actions that are genuinely threatening are unlawful, the judgment suggests that “aggressive” language at protests could be seen as legally out of bounds. What does that mean?

The judgment refers to profanity and comments made by some demonstrators to company contractors along the lines of “put the pipeline up your ass”, and using the “F-word”. But protestors have a legal right to be boisterous, insulting and loud. They have a right to make all kinds of different faces, even unfriendly and scary faces. While the court recognized that caution needs to be taken in characterizing expression, we are concerned that the decision could have the effect of limiting freedom of speech. Restrictions on speech must be as minimal as possible and they must be crystal clear in order to minimize chilling effects.”