181594
181042
BC  

Injunction against Fairy Creek protesters reinstated

Protest injunction reinstated

An injunction against Fairy Creek protesters has been reinstated by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

On Friday, Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein granted a stay against a court ruling that lifted the injunction against old-growth logging blockades in Fairy Creek.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson had ruled Sept. 28 that a court injunction granted to Surrey-based forestry company Teal Jones on April 1 would not be extended, saying the RCMP’s enforcement tactics “led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties” and brought the reputation of the court into disrepute.

Stromberg-Stein said that since the injunction expired, RCMP presence has declined and some protesters have created new camps, called for reinforcements and restricted access to the RCMP and Teal Jones employees and its contractors.

The judge found that the blockades erected by the protesters continue to have a significant and detrimental impact on Teal Jones’ operations. The company has had difficulty undertaking its typical logging activity, which has led to a potential loss of clients and the degradation of its reputation, the inability to winterize logging roads, potential unemployment and permanent loss of workers, and economic harm to their First Nations partners, said Stromberg-Stein.

Felled timber has been wasted and Teal Jones has incurred security costs and costs associated with vandalism, she said.

“In a situation where criminal law has not been effective, it is in the interests of justice to grant this stay to prevent serious prejudice to Teal Jones,” said Stromberg-Stein.

The injunction is aimed directly at those protesters engaging in unlawful activities, she said, noting Teal Jones’ activities are government-authorized and legal.

“No matter now unsavoury the protesters find Teal Cedar’s logging, their quarrel is with government policy,” she said.

“There is a stark difference between peaceful protest and unlawful and dangerous activity. The issue here is a serious concern for public safety since the denial of [Justice Douglas Thompson] to extend the injunction.”

Granting the stay is an urgent matter, she said, given the upcoming long weekend, which may bring potential for a surge in the number of protesters.

In his submissions to the appeal court, Teal Jones’ lawyer Dean Dalke said anarchy will reign without an injunction against old-growth logging blockades in Fairy Creek on southwest Vancouver Island.

“That’s not an overstatement or rhetorical flourish,” said Dalke. “When people with no legal right, not accountable to anyone, control access to public roads and choose who can and cannot get in, that blatant disregard for the laws of this country is a situation of anarchy.”

Teal Jones applied for a stay or an interim injunction against people protesting its logging and road-building efforts in Tree Farm Licence 46 pending judgment of its appeal. The leave to appeal and appeal will be heard together on Nov. 15.

Enforcing the injunction was difficult because of Fairy Creek’s remote location and the escalating and extreme tactics used by the blockaders, Dalke told the court. But it was successful to some degree and Teal Jones was able to harvest some timber, he said.

By the time the injunction expired, more than 1000 people had been arrested. As of Sept. 13, the B.C. Prosecution Service had approved 101 criminal contempt charges and charges for three Criminal Code offences.

Since Thompson’s decision, the RCMP has withdrawn most of its officers, said Dalke. During the injunction, 20 to 40 RCMP officers were actively engaged in enforcing it at any one time. After, there were 12 officers at the local detachment. During the injunction, the RCMP would respond in minutes. After it was lifted, it took them hours to respond, if they responded at all, he said.

The protest camp on Granite Road Mainline has been rebuilt from almost nothing. The blockaders are controlling who gets in and out of TFL 46, even preventing RCMP officers from entering the area, said Dalke.

A Teal Jones contractor tried to pass through the blockade with a crew of tree planters. The crew was stopped at a second blockade by protesters who insisted on searching their vehicles. The crew ultimately decided they would not risk being blocked on the way out and turned around, said Dalke.

On Oct. 4, RCMP officers were told they could proceed on foot but had to leave their cruisers behind. Protesters also refused to let the RCMP search for a missing person at the camp, saying they would follow up, said Dalke.

Steven Kelliher, the lawyer representing old-growth-logging opponent Robert Arbess, reminded the appeal court that in his Sept. 28 ruling, Thompson described the protesters as “moral and ethical citizens endeavouring to ward off impending destruction of a rare and irreplaceable ecosystem in the context of an existential environmental and climatological crisis.”



More BC News