BREAKING: SFU scientist Lynne Quarmby arrested in Kinder Morgan protest on Burnaby Mountain

BREAKING: SFU scientist Lynne Quarmby arrested in Kinder Morgan protest on Burnaby Mountain by Jenny Uechi and Mychaylo Prystupa, November 21, 2014, Vancouver Observer

Scientist Lynne Quarmby —  the chair of SFU’s molecular biology and biochemistry department, and face of public opposition against pipeline giant Kinder Morgan — has just been arrested at Burnaby Mountain.

“The reason we’re in this predicament here in Burnaby has to do with the Conservative Harper government and what they did at the end of 2012 in the omnibus bill that stripped environmental regulations,” she said in a speech minutes before her arrest.

“The NEB process is now a sham…We have a process that does not allow consideration of climate change…at a time that climate change is the biggest problem facing humanity. It’s unethical. The new NEB Act is written as requested by the oil industry.” 

“At the end of the day when you’re dealing with unjust law and abusive power, the last resource we have is civil disobedience. It’s done in full respect of the rule of law. But it’s also done with serious responsibility with being a citizen in this country,” she said, as cheers erupted.

“So now, I’m going to turn around and walk up this hill — and be the best citizen I can be.”

“This is only the beginning of a very long process — we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”

She said both her family and her community at SFU have provided “tremendous love and support”.

Right to democratic free speech

Quarmby has repeatedly asserted that she — and others who have protested Kinder Morgan — are “not radicals”, but merely citizens concerned about the impact on the environment if the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion goes through.

Quarmby has no previous criminal record, and her typical day is spent in the lab with her grad students using microscopes to look at what she calls “pond scum.” She studies genes that could unlock the hidden mysteries of polycystic kidney disease.

She and other citizens have been holding watch on Burnaby Mountain since Kinder Morgan violated municipal bylaws by cutting down trees in the conservation area in order to do digging and survey work for its pipeline, which the company hopes to put through Burnaby Mountain.

Quarmby is among five citizens (including fellow SFU professor Stephen Collis and an SFU administration worker) against whom Kinder Morgan has filed a multi-million dollar law suit last month. The company’s lawyer cited her op-ed in the case against her, and said her opposition had cost Kinder Morgan upwards of $5 million in losses. 

“I am not going to let Kinder Morgan take away my freedom of speech,” she said.

Michael Hale, a farm owner in Chilliwack and spokesperson for citizen group Pipe Up Network, said people are concerned about Kinder Morgan’s “heavy-handed tactics” and that what was happening to Burnaby Mountain and critics like Quarmby was a ‘litmus test’ for every other community along the pipeline expansion route.

“There are many parks in B.C. along the proposed pipeline route that Kinder Morgan is going to be working in,” he said. “What’s happening in Burnaby is what will happen everywhere else. Kinder Morgan made a big deal about how they’re going to listen to people. Is this their idea of consulting?”

Federal MP Kennedy Stewart, who flew in from Ottawa last night and was at Burnaby Mountain this morning, said Kinder Morgan was being “completely irresponsible,” and that he saw Burnaby constituents and business owners on the mountain today to oppose the pipeline expansion, despite the police arrests yesterday. [Emphasis added]


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