TEAL JONES PROPOSAL COULD CAUSE BC TAXPAYERS
TO BEAR THE BURDEN OF FOREST DEFENDERS’ PROSECUTIONS
July 8, 2021, Duncan, B.C. – Teal Jones this week asked the court to invite the BC Attorney General (AG) to take on the ongoing prosecutions of forest defenders. This request will alleviate Teal Jones of the financial and procedural burdens of prosecuting more than a hundred forest defenders.
These defenders, with Indigenous leaders, have been protecting old growth ancient rainforest areas mostly within Tree Farm Licence #46. More than 350 people have been arrested since the RCMP began enforcing the Teal Jones injunction, but as of July 4 of this year, RCMP have recommended charges against approximately 150 people.
“Teal Jones continues to log the ancient forests, even adjacent to the deferred Fairy Creek watershed. That is why forest defenders remain.” says Saul Arbess of the Rainforest Flying Squad.
BC Supreme Court Justice Thompson has invited the AG to assess the evidence and determine whether to proceed on charges of criminal contempt.
Crown prosecutor Trevor Shaw told the court he would have a response by July 19 as to whether the government intends to prosecute people for criminal contempt.
The AG has stated that if it accepts the invitation of the court, defendants will be grouped and trials scheduled by arrest date and location. The AG voiced preference to have two judges assigned to provide regular court dates and the ability to accommodate the large number of arrestees. The Vancouver courthouse is being considered for its location, large rooms, video services, and an ability to handle large numbers of the public.
Arbess adds, “Taxpayers will bear the cost of even more financial support to an already overly-subsidized logging industry. How long will taxpayers have to wait before the Premier upholds his promise to implement the recommendations of the 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review?“
Shaw stated that prosecutions could begin in late September or October.
Prosecutions would take a minimum of 15 weeks at the current number of people charged, and if no further charges are laid against other arrestees. Given that arrests continue on a daily basis, the prosecutions could take years, leaving BC taxpayers to foot the bill, while eliminating the financial and procedural burdens for Teal Jones.
About Rainforest Flying Squad
The Rainforest Flying Squad is a volunteer-driven, grassroots, non-violent direct action movement committed to protecting the last stands of globally significant ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island. Rainforest Flying Squad works in partnership with LastStandforForests and other like-minded organizations, and stands in solidarity with Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation.
More information at laststandforforests.com.