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Logging company calls for criminal charges against B.C. old growth protesters

Mass civil disobedience at the Fairy Creek blockades undermining the rule of law, Teal Cedar claims
Police take down a tent they’d set up, as they prepare to leave the Waterfall blockade on June 2. Protester Kat Ellis lays on the ground still locked into the sleeping dragon position. She unlocked herself as police drove away. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Three months have passed since an injunction order was issued against protesters in the Fairy Creek watershed, and almost two months since the RCMP began physically enforcing the order by arresting protesters.

In that time, 367 people (as of July 5) have been arrested, but the Rainforest Flying Squad protesters are not backing down.

So Teal Cedar Products, a subsidiary of Teal-Jones Group which has a licence to log in the area between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan, is asking B.C.’s attorney general to get involved, suggesting it’s time to lay criminal charges.

RELATED: Pacheedaht Nation asks again for protesters to leave Fairy Creek, citing wildfire risk

Teal Cedar filed the application June 17, and presented its argument July 6.

The application asks the court to make a declaration that there has been “mass public disobedience” and that it’s in the public’s interest for the attorney general to get involved “to defend the integrity and dignity of this Court and the rule of law in British Columbia.”

The arrests have been made under civil contempt, but criminal contempt could result in fines or jail time.

RELATED: Pacheedaht Elder politely refuses First Nation’s request to leave Fairy Creek

Teal Cedar laid out its case saying blockades represent “one of the largest acts of public disobedience of a court order in this province since the ‘War of the Woods’ of the early 1990s.”

Not only does the behaviour undermine the rule of law in B.C., the case claims, it “shows contempt for the authority of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations” on whose territory the dispute is occurring.

The Rainforest Flying Squad has repeatedly said it is on the Pacheedaht’s traditional territory at the invitation of Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones. There is a difference in opinion between that of Jones and Pacheedaht elected Chief Jeff Jones, who has asked the protesters to leave in two public letters, and in the request made along with the Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to defer logging in certain portions of their territories.

At the same time, a group of elderly protesters, calling themselves Elders for Ancient Trees, have filed an application that asserts the RCMP’s exclusion zones and enforcement techniques exceed the terms of the injunction. That application was filed June 29; the hearing was set for July 6 but has been postponed.

RELATED: Elder group heading to Victoria court to protest RCMP exclusion zones at Fairy Creek

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