Judge rules against extending injunction on old-growth blockades at Fairy Creek

CHEK

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ruled against extending the injunction affecting ongoing old-growth logging protests at Fairy Creek.

Justice Douglas Thompson wrote in his decision Tuesday that it was not “just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case” to grant the extension request made by Teal Cedar Products Ltd.

He also said that methods of enforcement undertaken by RCMP “have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties” including “impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree,” and that as well as officers wearing controversial “thin blue line” badges puts the court into disrepute.

“In the current circumstances, I am not persuaded that the balance of convenience favours extending the injunction. The factors weighing in favour of extension do not outweigh the public interest in protecting the Court from the risk of further depreciation of its reputation,” said Thompson.

Protesters have been blocking Teal Cedar’s access to the Fairy Creek watershed north of Port Renfrew for more than a year, during which time more than 1,000 arrests have been made — making it the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.

The interim extension order made on Sept. 17 expired at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thompson noted.

Teal Cedar Products Ltd. had applied to the court to extend the injunction order against protest blockades by one year.

In the four-day hearing, lawyers for protesters argued that people from all walks of life with environmental concerns were being treated like terrorists by police and the company.

Thompson’s ruling says the RCMP acted with “reasonable force” during much of the injunction period, but some video evidence presented during the hearings does show “disquieting lapses in reasonable crowd control.”

The judge’s ruling points to video evidence showing officers “repeatedly pulling COVID masks off protesters’ faces while pepper spray was about to be deployed.”

Arrests have been ongoing in the Fairy Creek area since May, when the RCMP started to enforce an earlier B.C. Supreme Court injunction against blockades erected in several areas near logging sites.

In June, the B.C. government deferred logging in 2,000 hectares around the Fairy Creek watershed and central Walbran area for two years, as part of an agreement with the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to develop an Indigenous-led forestry plan and reconciliation framework.

But protesters in the area argued it was not enough and did not protect the entire Fairy Creek area.

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