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Trans Mountain pipeline protester found guilty of contempt of court

'Such lawlessness affects us all negatively,' the judge said of the March 2021 incident.
Trans Mountain pipeline construction.

A man was found guilty of contempt of court on Feb. 14 for his attempts to attach himself to a piece of equipment at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby in March 2021.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick said Errol Povah appeared to have the support of others when he violated a court injunction; the injunction, issued by Justice Kenneth Affleck in 2018, prohibits people from entering within five metres of Trans Mountain worksites.

“Such lawlessness affects us all negatively,” Fitzpatrick said. “It is not tenable in a democracy for a group to impose its will on a democracy.” 

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.

She said his purpose in attempting to lock himself to the equipment was to impede work at the site.

However, he didn’t quite securely attach himself and security staff were able to remove him after a scuffle, court heard.

The judge said Povah was described by those at the scene as aggressive, agitated, confrontational and threatening.

She found that he knew of the 2018 court injunction.

She said Povah had argued the construction site was an open one and should have had barriers around it.

The judge noted Povah was jumping over barriers, some of which had prohibition signs on them. She Povah argued he had not impeded work at the site as he was removed.

“The breach occurs when the obstruction is created,” Fitzpatrick said.

The judge told Povah he's entitled to air his views publicly as long as he does so legally.

Povah will return to court on April 1 for sentencing submissions.

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