Port Hope Simpson man ordered to pay $8000 to Nalcor
© Derek Montague
Dennis Woodrow Burden waits to be called into court on January 8. Burden was ordered to pay $8000 for damaging a hydro pole during an act of protest. He was also given 12 months probation.
Dennis Woodrow Burden of Port Hope Simpson was ordered to pay $8000 restitution and given 12 months probation for damaging a hydro electric pole more than a year ago.
On December 18, 2012, Burden took an axe to a hydro pole, which was connected to The Muskrat Falls’ worksite, as a form of protest against the mega-project. He chopped halfway through the pole before stopping.
“Why do I do this? I got no choice. They are killing nine rivers here, they are going to run a transmission line south, they’re going to dam every river,” Burden told The Labradorian before he began chopping. “The planet can not support this. It’s suicide. I am doing this for my kids and their kids…”
Burden was arrested that day and charged with mischief by damaging property.
Eventually, Burden would plead guilty to the charge. Today, in Provincial Court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Judge John Joy accepted the joint submission by the Defense and Crown.
During his 12 months probation, Burden is prohibited from entering “active” Nalcor work sites related to the Muskrat Falls’ project. He was also given three years to pay the $8000 restitution, in which he must make periodic payments through the court.
The $8000, according to the court, is the amount of money it cost to replace the damaged hydro pole. Burden’s restitution payments will be transferred to Nalcor.
Judge Joy commended Burden for his “sincerity” and called him a “hard working fisherman, before handing down his sentence, and waiving the victim fine surcharge.
Joy also noted that “Everybody has the right to…protest,” but they don’t have the right to damage property.
“I do note, however, that you stopped (chopping) when you thought community safety was at risk,” Joy said to Burden.
“I accept that there was no malice on your part.”
When Burden was given his chance to speak in court, he claimed that he damaged the pole in order to bring attention to the negative effects of the Muskrat Falls project.
“Right from the start, I knew there was something wrong with the project,” said Burden. “I heard the Premier (Dunderdale) lie to us about how green this project is…”
“…How do you inform people? How do you kill the monster?”
“I thought this would inform people.”
After the sentencing hearing, Burden felt that Judge Joy was fair in his decision.
“It’s pretty obvious; I broke the pole…it was a criminal act. That’s about as fair as the judge could do it, I guess,” said Burden.
“I’ll manage (the $8000 restitution) somehow. It’s going to make for tight times for me though.”
Despite having to pay a large restitution and being put on probation for 12 months, Burden says that he doesn’t regret his actions.
“No, I have no regrets,” he says. “I thought, maybe this would spread the message. I think, if it stopped this project, I would have been satisfied to spend time in jail for it.”
“I think (my actions) caused some conversation at least.”