OLD GROWTH LOGGING PROTEST REVIEWING OPTIONS OF COURT OF APPEAL DECISION

 

Lək̓ʷəŋən Territories (Victoria BC), January 26, 2022: This morning, three Court of Appeal Justices announced that they’ve granted an extension to Teal Cedar Products Ltd. for an injunction against public protest in the Fairy Creek area. The injunction against protesters aimed to ensure the company could continue its practice of clearcutting old growth forests unhindered for another full year in Tree Farm License #46 in the Pacheedaht First Nation Territory.

 

On September 28, 2021, the original injunction was lifted by Justice Douglas Thompson on the basis that Royal Canadian Mounted Police enforcement tactics had led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties.

 

On October 8, 2021, Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein of the Court of Appeal reversed that decision granting a temporary injunction to Teal Cedar Ltd. until the case was heard before the Court of Appeal in mid-November.

 

In mid-November, the three Justices, Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon, Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten and Justice Bruce Butler granted Teal Cedar Ltd. leave to appeal Justice Thompson’s decision not to extend the injunction. They reserved their decision until today.

 

“We are disappointed with this decision and are concerned that the remedies for addressing the misconduct by the RCMP, as noted by the Court of Appeal, will be insufficient to hold the police force accountable,” states Matthew Nefstead, one of the lawyers for the respondents. “We are reviewing our options in light of this decision and will announce our next steps over the coming weeks.”

 

He adds that, “Justice Thompson found that the RCMP’s enforcement tactics substantially interfered with civil liberties. Unlawful restrictions of public and media access, officers refusing to identify themselves, and instances of excessive force used against land and forest defenders engaging in peaceful protest were some of the key issues leading to his decision not to renew the injunction. The Court of Appeal has held that they were not appropriate factors for him to consider. This has concerning implications for the rule of law.”

 

Active logging in the area continues. Protesters are losing patience with the BC government’s refusal to honour their October 2020 election promise to place a moratorium on the logging of old growth in the province when so little remains.

 

“First the government broke its promises, then the RCMP reacted with unlawful violence without impunity and without regard to civil liberties. Now our court system further protects corporate rights above those of its citizens,” says defendant, Kathleen Code. “They tell us we can make complaints against the RCMP but the process is flawed and bureaucratic. We are concerned that the RCMP will take this as free license to increase their unlawful and racist activities.

What possible future lies ahead for our next generations? What about the climate crisis? What about habitat for species-at-risk? Clearly our systems are failing us and our planet—the time for corporate monopolies and their excessive profiteering is over.”

 

In the meantime, without immediate action the NDP government is allowing the cutting of these ancient and irreplaceable forests.

 

“We need citizens to contact their MLAs and demand to know why ancient forests are being clear cut. The forest industry must evolve. They must stop the old-growth logging today. If they don’t, our government will have completely failed to keep its promises and are contributing to the irreversible deforestation of our planet,” adds Code.

 

 

TIMELINE

 

April 01, 2021

Teal Cedar Products Ltd. wins Supreme Court application for injunction against forest defenders to prevent ancient forest logging.

 

May 17, 2021

RCMP forces establish access control area at Fairy Creek. Witnesses and observers including media were not allowed on site.

 

July 20, 2021

Supreme Court Justice Thompson rules in favour of Canadian Association of Journalists and Elders for Ancient Trees instructing the RCMP to stop interfering with public and media access at Fairy Creek.

 

September 28, 2021

Justice Douglas Thompson’s decision not to extend the injunction on behalf of Teal-Jones includes criticism of RCMP violence.

 

October 8, 2021

Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein stayed Justice Thompson’s decision granting a temporary injunction until the case is heard before the Court of Appeal November 15, citing economic harm done to Teal Jones.

 

November 15 and 16, 2021

The Court of Appeal grants Teal Cedar Ltd. leave to appeal Justice Thompson’s decision to deny the extension of the injunction on the grounds of the damage to the reputation of the court.  The three Justices reserved their decision.

 

January 26, 2022

The Court of Appeal decision