Canada’s highest court has refused to hear an appeal of a British Columbia Supreme Court decision that acquitted a demonstrator of criminal contempt for taking part in a blockade of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island.
In its decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the appeal application from the B.C. Crown and awarded costs to the demonstrator who now uses the name Emily Henderson.
As is customary, the high court did not provide reasons for its ruling.
Henderson was cleared of contempt in February when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson found RCMP officers only read a shortened version of an injunction to hundreds of protesters, including Henderson, who were arrested at the Fairy Creek logging blockade on southern Vancouver Island.
Thompson ruled the abbreviated script used by the officers didn’t contain enough information to give protesters “actual knowledge” of the injunction contents and prove they were “wilfully blind” to its terms.
Henderson’s acquittal prompted the B.C. Prosecution Service to withdraw contempt charges against eleven old-growth logging protesters in April, while many similar cases remain before the court.
The Fairy Creek protest began after logging permits were granted in 2020 allowing Teal Cedar Products to cut timber, including old-growth trees, in areas including the Fairy Creek watershed northeast of Port Renfrew.
Protest camps were set up close to the cutting site in August 2020 and injunctions aimed at preventing interference with logging or forestry crews followed the next year.
Confrontations escalated in 2021, leading to active RCMP intervention and what is considered one of the most extensive acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history as more than 1,100 demonstrators were arrested.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2023.