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Injunction against Fairy Creek logging protests extended, but protesters declare 'moral victory'


A B.C. judge has extended an injunction against old-growth logging protesters in the Fairy Creek watershed on southern Vancouver Island for another year, but the protesters say his ruling is a "moral victory" for their cause.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas W. Thompson issued his decision in the case on Wednesday. 

Though he opted to extend the injunction granted to Teal Cedar Products Ltd. for another year, Thompson dedicated a significant portion of his reasons for his decision to discussing the arguments of the protesters.

While his reason for doing so was to emphasize their dedication to their cause – and therefore the likelihood that they will continue attempting to disrupt Teal Cedar's logging activity – the judge wrote sympathetically about the protesters he has sentenced.

"I have come to understand what at first blush seems counterintuitive: the people I have sentenced value and appreciate the importance of obeying the law," Thompson wrote in his decision.

"Not a single person of the more than 100 I have sentenced has previously committed an offence. They are highly intelligent people, non-violent and principled by nature. They are not naïve and misguided dupes of some shadowy organization aiming to break down the rule of law. They are not trouble-makers with nothing better to do. Most are well educated with fulfilling and important jobs, often in occupations focused on helping others. Most have a notable history of volunteer service. Their motives are altruistic and compassionate."

On Thursday, the Rainforest Flying Squad – one of the groups responsible for the protests in the watershed – issued a statement highlighting the judge's words of praise.

Quoting Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones, who has welcomed protestors to join him in defending the old-growth forests on his ancestral territory, the group's statement read:

“It’s a moral victory for us. Justice Thompson’s words provide validation for the work we have taken on for the past two years.”

For more than a year, protesters camped out in the Fairy Creek watershed in an effort to stop the logging of old-growth trees there. The courts first issued the injunction in April 2021, and police enforcement of the ruling began the following month.

Police made more than 1,000 arrests while enforcing the injunction. 

Teal Cedar applied to extend the injunction for another year, a move that protesters opposed in court, arguing that the logging company had failed to demonstrate irreparable harm from the protest activities and failed to pursue its civil case against protesters in a timely manner.

They also argued that there had been a lull in obstructive activity in the area subject to the injunction, and therefore the injunction was no longer necessary.

Thompson rejected the first two arguments in just a few paragraphs, but devoted a significant portion of his decision to the third.

"To come to grips with the degree of likelihood that the obstructive activity will continue requires an appreciation of the motivations and commitment of those engaged in this civil disobedience campaign," the judge wrote, noting that "the climate crisis is accelerating" and quoting UN Secretary General António Guterres' description of the August 2021 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as "a code red for humanity."

"Notwithstanding the consensus of climate scientists or warnings of the Secretary-General, Teal Cedar is entitled to stand on its legal rights to log old-growth forests," Thompson wrote. "And, it goes without saying that this Court’s role is to denounce and not endorse the methods of persons obstructing lawful activity."

"The purpose of outlining what I have come to know of the motives, nature, and character of those engaged in this civil disobedience is to explain why I think it likely that obstructive activity will continue, and why I agree with Teal Cedar’s submission that it is unrealistic to place emphasis on six weeks’ quiet in the injunction area in the context of this long-running and nearly continuous campaign against its logging of old-growth forests."

Thompson extended the injunction to Sept. 26, 2023. Top Stories

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