Injunction extended against B.C. logging protests; demonstrators claim ‘moral victory’
September 23, 2022 By Jennifer Ellson
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has extended an injunction against old-growth logging protesters on Vancouver Island for another year. In his decision, the judge wrote sympathetically about the protesters, who called the ruling a ‘moral victory’.
The injunction was originally granted to Teal-Cedar Products in April 2021 to stop protesters from setting up camps in the Fairy Creek watershed area in an effort to stop the the company’s logging activities.
Protests continued and in June 2022, Indigenous leaders met with protesters to give final notice to immediately dismantle an illegal camp built across a main logging road on Ditidaht traditional territory. In August, the RCMP arrested people and removed a protest camp that’s blocking access to a forestry operation near Lake Cowichan.
Kathleen Code of the Rainforest Flying Squad, one of the respondents in the case, said the vast majority of people sentenced by Justice Thompson are those who volunteered to be arrested, ready to plead guilty for their offences and accept the consequences.
Ruling is a ‘moral victory’
On Wednesday, September 21, Justice Douglas W. Thompson issued his decision to extend the injunction until Sept. 26, 2023, while also issuing words of praise for the protestors.
“I have come to understand what at first blush seems counterintuitive: the people I have sentenced value and appreciate the importance of obeying the law. Not a single person of the more than one hundred I have sentenced has previously committed an offence,” the judge wrote in the ruling.
“They are highly intelligent people, non-violent and principled by nature. They are not naïve and misguided dupes of some shadowy organization aiming to break down the rule of law. They are not trouble-makers with nothing better to do. Most are well-educated with fulfilling and important jobs, often in occupations focused on helping others. Most have a notable history of volunteer service. Their motives are altruistic and compassionate,” the judge added.
The Rainforest Flying Squad issued a statement quoting Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, who had welcomed protestors to join him in demonstrations on his ancestral territory: “It’s a moral victory for us. Justice Thompson’s words provide validation for the work we have taken on for the past two years.”
Protesters are likely to continue obstructing in Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46, Thompson said, because the “climate crisis is accelerating” and because they are “deeply committed to doing what they can to stave off the disaster resulting from ecological degradation and global heating.”
“These intelligent people are not oblivious to the importance of the rule of law. They understand the role of the law in promoting and safeguarding peace and order. At the same time, they hear the sounding of clear warnings by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists and others, and they fear that on the present course the future will be profoundly disordered for our species and others. They perceive that their conventional efforts to focus the attention of society’s leaders on this existential issue have failed. They have decided that these desperate times call for desperate measures,” the judge wrote.
Not against logging
Members of the Rainforest Flying Squad said they would like to reiterate that they recognize that logging sustains a lot of families, but that “forestry has to be reframed in a way that provides more jobs – logging itself, ecological restoration, value-added products and manufacturing, ecotourism, foraging, among others,” Code told CFI.
“We are not anti-logging – that’s what second growth is for. We are for protecting the less than three per cent of the intact old-growth forest that remains to us, according to scientists. Industry has already clear cut 97 per cent – and in this time of climate crisis, old-growth forests are among the best defences available to us,” Code said.
B.C. has around 11.1 million hectares of old-growth covering 12 per cent of the province and 20 per cent of the forested land base. One-third of that old-growth is protected. According to the province, old-growth harvesting in unprotected areas has decreased by 40 per cent over the past five years. In 2020, 33,262 hectares or 0.3 per cent of old-growth was logged.
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