It has been a decade since people rallied in droves to protest the 1% as part of the global Occupy movement.
There is no doubt that several of the Canadian protesters who took to the streets at the time to express their outrage at a tiny elite minority controlling the vast majority of the world’s wealth are now part of the ongoing struggle to protect a very different percent.
There are an estimated 13 million hectares of old growth forest still standing in B.C. – most of it in low elevation or high elevation swamps too difficult or rare for logging companies to care. – while ancient temperate rainforests with hundreds or even trees It is estimated that thousands of years ago only total about 415,000 hectares, or less than one percent of the old-growth forests in the southernmost province. western Canada.
One of these pristine watersheds is in a remote corner of southern Vancouver Island, and activists affiliated with the Rainforest Flying Squad core group have occupied Fairy Creek in an attempt to save it from logging by the logging company Teal-Jones since August of last year. (There’s a dark, funny side to greenies fighting a logging company by the name in part of a shade of green in color, not to mention the one killing giants in a place called Fairy Creek, but I digress. The confrontation quickly escalated after the RCMP began enforcing a court-ordered injunction preventing interference with logging and road-building activities approved by the Teal-Jones government in May, and – over the next six months – more than a thousand people were arrested in what has become the country’s largest act of civil disobedience.
Two weeks ago, the tense situation took a turn after British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson chose not to extend the injunction, saying cops’ tough enforcement methods – which included hiding their identities behind banned badges, preventing journalists from doing their jobs, and a lot of pepper spray – basically the short looked bad for giving it the go-ahead first place.
“(The) methods of enforcing the court order have led to a serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including a marked infringement of press freedom,” Thompson wrote in the decision. âAnd, the application was carried out by police officers made anonymous to the demonstrators, many of these police officers wearingâ thin blue line âbadges. All of this was done in the name of enforcing this tribunal’s order, adding to the already significant risk to the tribunal’s reputation whenever an injunction draws the tribunal into this type of citizen-government dispute.
But the environmentalists’ turn of victory was short-lived; British Columbia Court of Appeal Judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein last Friday restored the injunction after protesters quickly built new camps and roadblocks with the departure of most of the police from the region.
While Judge Thompson worried about the reputation of the tribunal, Judge Stromberg-Stein appears to be more concerned with the reputation (and results) of Teal-Jones.
“In a situation where the criminal law has not been effective, it is in the interests of justice to grant this stay to avoid serious harm to Teal-Jones,” Stromberg-Stein wrote, citing economic harm. potential for the company and its First Nations partners. . âThere is a glaring difference between peaceful protest and illegal and dangerous activity. This is a serious concern for public safety since the refusal to [Justice Thompson] extend the injunction.
What goes around comes around. It’s hard to see exactly how public safety is endangered when the guys beating up peaceful protesters have mostly been taken out of the equation, though then again things could get even uglier if forestry workers get frustrated. decide to start taking matters into their own hands. The saying “when the cat is away the mice will play” probably applies to both sides when so much is at stake.
It should be noted that Fairy Creek is located on the traditional territories of the Pacheedaht First Nation, and band chiefs have previously called on protesters – many of whom are Indigenous themselves – to abandon their checkpoints. The requests were about as well received as the invitation of the Tk’emlÃºps te SecwÃ©pemc Kukpi7 First Nation to Justin Trudeau to come and visit their the house – the site of the first anonymous graves discovered of children from the residential school system – on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with the Prime Minister choosing instead to spend the new holiday enjoying the beaches of the unceded territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation while pretending to be busy in Ottawa.
For now, the mess has returned to the knees of NDP Premier John Horgan and will certainly be a hot topic now that the Provincial Legislature is back in session for the fall session.
MORE FLEMISH: Trudeau wins a minority with a majority in British Columbia
The views, opinions and positions expressed by all columnists and contributors to iPolitics are the sole responsibility of the author. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and / or positions of iPolitics.