Monday, July 24, 2017

The Ring of Fire Circling BC

The Ring of Fire Circling BC

A ring of fire is circling a large part of our province. The fires are a direct result of unabated commercial logging. Huge multinational companies have, in essence, been given the BC public forests, (native lands) by different BC governments for free (they pay only a few dollars for the trees which is why the US accuses BC lumber of being subsidised).  I am asked…exactly how are the commercial logging companies the villains in this?

Because only controlled burning, to rid the forests of accumulated buildup of forest debris, especially after clear-cutting, will stop the catastrophic wild fires occurring now.  And who opposes controlled burning so vehemently that controlled burning doesn’t happen?  Why, the multi-national logging companies.  Why do they oppose?  Because even a controlled burn many very well take out some of the commercial tree farm trees from time to time.  Any controlled burn is a risk to their bottom line.  The province, no matter who is in power, will not go against the logging companies. Commercial logging needs maximized profits; politicians need maximized votes and political support.   

What stopped the citizen’s mass environmental protests when people came out in droves years ago to protect BC forests? What stopped all those protests? Primarily BC Chief Justice Madam Beverly McLachlin, as she was then (she is currently Chief Justice of Canada).  McLachlin laid down the definitive ruling of how environmental protesters were to be treated if arrested. They were to be charged, but not under the Criminal Code as everyone else is charged for a misdemeanor.  Environmental protesters were to be put into a special category. They would be charged with Contempt of Court which is a much more serious charge.  But how did this happen?  What was the reasoning behind making protesters guilty of Contempt of Court? They weren’t protesting the Court, they were protesting commercial logging.

But McLachlin reasoned that by protesting the injunction (a judge’s order) and refusing to move, protesters were bringing the justice system into disrepute. She wrote:  The gravamen (the essence) of the offense (of protesting) of criminal contempt is not actual or threatened injury to persons or property, other offences deal with those evils.  The gravamen of the offence is rather the open, continuous, and flagrant violation of a Court order.”

But that’s what a protest is about, to come together with like-minded citizens, in the freedom to be open, to speak truth to power,  to try to attract attention to the destruction of BC forests and other environmental destructions, and yes, to give voice to this for as long as possible. We were willing to face arrest, but I don’t blame anyone for not being willing to be deprived of the protections of the law itself.  Is there a remedy?  Yes, more protests.  And maybe even a little help from our new Attorney General, David Eby. The Attorney General could certainly help in persuading the police and the Crown to treat all citizens equally. As he is the former president of the BC civil liberties association, I put great faith in David Eby’s wish to right this egregious wrong.

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