Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs lead a march in mid-January down Smithers Main Street in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline. (Chris Gareau photo)

Crown won’t pursue charges against 14 pipeline opponents in northern B.C.

Some members of the Wet’suwet’en have said Coastal GasLink has no jurisdiction

The B.C. prosecution service says it does not have enough evidence to pursue charges of criminal contempt against 14 people who were arrested in January when RCMP enforced an interim court injunction at a pipeline blockade on the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s traditional territory.

The prosecution service says in a statement submitted to the B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George that the cases were referred to it for potential prosecution of criminal contempt on Feb. 4.

After a review, it says it is not satisfied there is enough evidence for a substantial likelihood of conviction.

It says those charges are separate from Criminal Code charges arising from the same events and it has approved a charge of assaulting a police officer with a weapon against one of the 14 individuals arrested.

READ MORE: Members of B.C. First Nation plan new camp to block natural gas pipeline path

Police made the arrests on Jan. 7 as they enforced an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink, which is building a natural gas pipeline from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

The company says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation governments along the pipeline path, but some members of the Wet’suwet’en have said it has no jurisdiction without the consent of its hereditary chiefs.

In the statement, Crown counsel Trevor Shaw says the decision not to pursue the charges relates to whether information was available on the injunction.

“One element of criminal contempt relates to knowledge (whether direct, inferred or otherwise) of the terms of the injunction,” he said.

“After a review of the evidence at this point, the BCPS is not satisfied that there is the necessary evidentiary basis for a substantial likelihood of conviction.”

The injunction originally included a term requiring that a copy of the order be posted on the company’s website, as well as near a bridge where the pipeline opponents and members of the First Nation had established a gate on the logging road that Coastal GasLink needs to access for its project.

But the prosecution service says the required posting at the bridge was deleted by order of the court on Jan. 4.

READ MORE: B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

The events on Jan. 7 were also dynamic and did not include various steps or actions relating to notice that might have arisen in a different context, the statement said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Man, 40, killed in hit and run in Fort St. James

One person is dead in a hit and run case that is… Continue reading

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

Most Read