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HomeBusinessJudge denies Save Old Growth protester conditional discharge 

Judge denies Save Old Growth protester conditional discharge 

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Bob Mackin

A Vancouver teacher faced the music in Provincial Court Dec. 21 and got schooled by a judge for her role in illegal Save Old Growth blockades.

Save Old Growth’s April 4, 2022 protest on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge (SOG/Facebook)

Judge Nancy Adams fined Deborah Sherry Janet Tin Tun $1,000 and sentenced her to 18 months probation after she pleaded guilty to mischief for gluing her hand to pavement April 4 on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge. Tin Tun, who represented herself in court, had sought a conditional discharge because she worried that a criminal record would affect her ability to keep a teaching licence. 

“She accepted the consequence that if she’s convicted, she’ll get a criminal record,” Adams said. “She’s not a naive youngster, she 37 years old.”

Adams said Tin Tun, who has degrees in music and education and teaches music classes to kindergarten students, was “of exemplary previous character and she’s an asset to her community” for being involved in the teaching profession. 

During her submissions, Tin Tun proposed community work service. She said she already volunteers with Hives for Humanity and the Richmond Community Orchestra, while studying for a post-degree certificate with Queen’s University online. 

Adams asked if she had any evidence of a teacher losing accreditation after a mischief conviction. 

“I didn’t try to find someone who had that experience,” Tin Tun admitted. 

During sentencing, Adams said she expected regulators would easily understand the difference between Tin Tun’s mischief conviction and egregious offences like causing violence to others or harming children. Adams said she could not give a conditional sentence because Tin Tun showed no remorse for disrupting the lives of thousands of people twice on the same bridge. 

“Someone could have been killed. No one got advance notice,” Adams said. 

Adams said Tin Tun caused a hazard on a highway and “usurped public infrastructure in order to extort a democratically elected government to do something” about climate change. She only expressed regret for inconveniencing motorists and said she wouldn’t do so again because of the stress it caused her. Adams said other protesters who came before the court testified they were deterred after witnessing how their actions adversely affected people around them. 

“She really hasn’t acknowledged that she’s caused any disruption in people’s lives. She has placed herself on a higher platform, she thinks she’s for a higher calling,” Adams said. “She feels, in my view, entitled.”

Tin Tun also admitted to her role in a June 13 roadblock in which she tried to lock her neck to the steering wheel of a vehicle driven by William Glen Winder, 71. Winder was sentenced Dec. 6 to 30 days house arrest and 18 months probation. Adams rejected Tin Tun’s submission that the police were overly aggressive in removing the pair from the car. 

“I would think that most citizens would expect them to break the window and do everything necessary to get that hazard off the road,” Adams said. 

While Adams acknowledged Tin Tun believes that the government is not doing enough to battle climate change, she said “I’m not deciding on the message, I’m deciding about the means of which Ms. Tin Tun has decided to communicate the message. It was unlawful.”

Adams also cited an Oct. 3 story in the Vancouver Island Free Daily about a lawful protest outside the Parliament Buildings, which mentioned that Tin Tun and another protester “don’t enjoy being arrested, but the disruptions seem to be the only things that get the government to act.”

That further reinforced Adams’ decision against a conditional discharge. 

“It wouldn’t deter anyone, in fact it would enable those who have her view that committing a crime is now the appropriate action when government isn’t moving fast enough,” Adams said. 

“It would actually undermine the rule of law —which is the very thing that I must uphold — and lead to acts of chaos.”

Muhammad Zain Ul-Haq, a Pakistani national outside the North Fraser Pretrial Centre (Save Old Growth)

On Dec. 6, when Winder was sentenced, court heard that there have been 48 arrests leading to charges of 34 individuals from SOG since the Extinction Rebellion splinter group formed last January, under the federally incorporated entity called Eco-Mobilization Canada. They have failed to convince the NDP government to outlaw old growth logging.

SOG’s website says the group receives most of its funding for recruitment, training, capacity building and education from the California-based Climate Emergency Fund (CEF). Earlier this year, leader Muhammad Zain Ul Haq told the New York Times that SOG had received US$170,000. The student from Pakistan pleaded guilty Nov. 15 to mischief under $5,000 and breach of a release order. 

In the most-recent SOG protest, Vancouver Police arrested five people on Oct. 20 for blocking the Lions Gate Bridge. They timed the protest for the morning after the NDP disqualified environmentalist Anjali Appadurai and made Eby the successor to Premier John Horgan.

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