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BREAKING: SFU scientist Lynne Quarmby arrested in Kinder Morgan protest

"So now, I'm going to turn around and walk up this hill -- and be the best citizen I can be," said Quarmby, before crossing police tape and getting arrested.

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"I've been concerned about the environment, but I've mostly been involved in letter-writing, op-eds, voting, and things like that," she told The Vancouver Observer earlier this morning. She was arrested once for blockading a coal train in White Rock, but says that was "an exception."

Photo by Greg Elhers. Simon Fraser University. 

Yesterday on Burnaby Mountain, she hinted she was ready for arrest. When asked by The Vancouver Observer about the possibility of arrest, she responded:

“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.

Last month, she penned a widely circulated op-ed inThe Vancouver Observer saying she anticipates "the return of Kinder Morgan with an injunction" for protesters in the Burnaby Mountain conservation zone.

She and a group of 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. 

Photo of Lynn Quarmby addressing reporters in front of B.C. Supreme Court. 

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

When the courts granted Kinder Morgan an injunction against protesters last week, over 800 citizens—many of them Burnaby residents— showed up on Burnaby Mountain on Monday to support the protest against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. 

Quarmby grew up in a small rural part of Vancouver Island and discovered a love for nature while exploring the forests and streams near her home, according to The ScientistShe paints in watercolour, landscapes and cell biology-inspired abstract paintings. She said in a previous interview that she was not expected to go on to university as a girl, but she went on to earn her masters' at UBC and a PhD in biochemistry the University of Connecticut.

SFU has expressed strong support for both Quarmby and others who Kinder Morgan sued this month. Over 300 faculty, staff and students signed a letter in support of two professors facing court actions by Kinder Morgan.

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. 

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