Good morning! Wendy Cox in Vancouver here.
It took RCMP only minutes to arrest Tzeporah Berman after she arrived at a logging blockade on Saturday that police were trying to have cleared. Officers were enforcing an injunction after months of refusals to leave by activists blockading a logging company’s access to Fairy Creek.
Ms. Berman arrived to give the protesters star power: With an international profile, she went to the blockade specifically to seek an arrest and make a point. The RCMP obliged.
But as she wrote in an essay for The Globe, she’s starred in this movie before, and while the actors have changed, the plotline hasn’t. Twenty-seven years ago, Ms. Berman was among the 1,000 people arrested who were trying to stop logging in Clayoquot Sound, another watershed on Vancouver Island. Their actions and the international attention it brought to B.C.’s logging practices managed to halt cutting in the forestry area near Tofino.
It was a huge win for environmentalists and their victory forced a reckoning by forestry companies. Roughly two years later, environmentalists rebranded what was then known as B.C.’s Central Mid-coast Timber Supply Area as the Great Bear Rainforest, and then launched another battle, one that threatened to poison the markets for the province’s forest products.
With the combined efforts of Greenpeace, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club BC, more than 80 companies, including Home Depot, Staples and IKEA, were persuaded to stop selling products made from B.C.’s old-growth forests. Then-B.C. premier Glen Clark condemned the activists as the “enemies of B.C.” and refused to accept the region’s new moniker. But 20 years later, in 2016, then-premier Christy Clark declared the completion of an accord that reaches far beyond the original objectives of protecting ancient forests and the home of the unique white-furred black bear known as the Spirit Bear while also recognizing aboriginal rights.
Earlier this year, reporter Justine Hunter, a veteran reporter of all these campaigns, gave Globe readers an update on how implementation of that deal was faring. Upshot: Not so well. The province’s NDP government, re-elected last fall with a commitment to lead a paradigm shift in forestry, is mired in planning and consultation.
So Ms. Berman’s arrest Saturday carries a veiled warning. Forestry campaigners in British Columbia are skilled at garnering international attention to the necessarily dramatic cutting of massive trees in areas as beautiful as the Fairy Creek area’s name would suggest.
Still, behind the dozens of arrests and the continuing spectacle of protesters chaining themselves to massive stumps and blockading themselves in treetop platforms is a story with layers of complexity.
The company maintains it is logging responsibly and successfully obtained a court injunction to halt the protests.
And while Indigenous groups have shared environmentalists’ goals on many forest campaigns, in the case of Fairy Creek, local band members are divided on the issue.
The Pacheedaht First Nation supports the Teal-Jones Group’s plans to log the area and argues responsible forestry is necessary to protect riparian areas, rivers and streams, and allow the band to “rehabilitate the massive historic damage” that followed unregulated logging, mining and hydroelectric power production after Europeans came to the region.
In a statement, the band said the campaign to stop harvesting ancient trees is undermining its sovereignty and putting further strain on its community during the pandemic.
Forestry employs band members on and off reserve, he noted, and revenue from the industry helps establish and enhance local businesses and services. It is unclear how much financial damage the blockades have caused, Mr. Bealing said, noting Pacheedaht is not partners with Teal-Jones.
“In the past 150 years, we have watched the resources being stripped from our unceded lands with little to no recognition of our rights, and we are proud and excited to be finally restoring involvement, governance and control,” Rod Bealing, the nation’s forestry manager, said in a statement.
“Well-managed forestry has huge potential for the well-being of our nation.”
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.
AROUND THE WEST
Overwhelmed Manitoba calls for help amid third wave of COVID-19: Manitoba hospitals are transferring patients to intensive care units as far away as Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., and the Premier is asking the federal government and the White House for help to cope with a crushing third wave that is overwhelming the province’s health care system.
The province, one of the few places in Canada where infections are increasing, recorded more than 600 new COVID-19 infections in a single day last week – eclipsing previous records and cementing its position as the North American hot spot. Manitoba has surpassed Alberta in having the most active cases per capita.
B.C. outlines four-step plan to end restrictions, return to normal by September: People across B.C. can now return to eating inside restaurants, hosting a handful of friends in their homes and attending small religious services as a deadly third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic abates on Canada’s West Coast.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry announced a host of expanded freedoms Tuesday as part of a plan to “restart” society that they said was made possible by a steady push for mass immunization getting at least one dose of vaccine to two thirds of all adults in the province.
Alberta calls for national security rules for academics to prevent intellectual property transfer to China: Alberta is urging the federal government to set strong national standards to ensure that Canadian universities and researchers are not transferring scientific data and intellectual property to China that benefit its military and security apparatus.
The call arises after the province itself has come under fire for not reining in Alberta universities engaged in research with individuals or entities tied to the Chinese government or ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Massive Klondike collection donated to UBC: The Klondike of Phil Lind’s painstakingly amassed collection is a place where men nearly froze in week upon week of -40 weather, where Indigenous prospectors were pushed out of their territory by white settlers, and where law-and-order Canadians attempted to co-exist with more unruly Americans.
Mr. Lind’s trove of documents, photographs and other ephemera from the Gold Rush age will soon give historians an unprecedented look at the people who lived through an era that has long held a legendary place in North America’s imagination. Mr. Lind, a University of British Columbia graduate and vice-president at Rogers Communications, has donated the collection started by his father to his alma mater. It marks a $2.5-million gift.
Alberta rodeos brace for an uncertain season: Organizers of fairs and agricultural fairs in the Prairies are once again facing an uncertain summer after Alberta and much of the country were forced back into widespread shutdowns because of the pandemic’s third wave.
Recently falling case numbers have fuelled optimism about this summer, prompting Premier Jason Kenney to promise that large outdoor events would be able to return in some form – if infections and hospital admissions are held at bay. Even if public-health measures allow rodeos to take place, another challenge is the Canada-U.S. border, which has been closed to non-essential travel for more than a year. The closing has been extended to June 21.
Heads up: It’s spot prawn season in B.C.: British Columbians are wild about spot prawns – now more than ever, thanks to a confluence of pandemic-related factors that have made them easier to buy and enjoy here at home.
This year’s season opened on May 14 and day-boat sales are hopping, especially in Steveston, where 10 commercial fishing boats now sell live prawns straight from the dock. Last year, there were four boats servicing the Fisherman’s Wharf. In previous years, there were one or two. Across the province, fishermen and retailers are selling directly to consumers through online sales, home delivery and pop-up markets outside restaurants and in parking lots.
These jumbo crustaceans, sustainably harvested and only available live for a four-to-six-week window, are world-renowned for their large size, firm flesh and sweet flavour. But 15 years ago, many locals didn’t even know they existed.
Kelly Cryderman on Alberta’s vaccine hesitancy: “If Alberta is starting to crawl out of an awful third wave of the pandemic, it’s in part because provincial vaccine hesitancy and flat-out resistance have evolved with remarkable speed over the past six months.”
Gary Mason on Kevin Falcon’s campaign to lead the BC Liberals — and change the party’s name: “Changing the name of the Liberals to something more all-embracing – the B.C. Party, for example – has merit. It wipes the slate clean and gives the new entity a chance to be anything it wants. It might also help Mr. Falcon unload his greatest burden – the political baggage he carries.”
Jennifer Ellen Good and Elin Kelsey on the need for ‘old-growth-free’ certification: “These giants hold information accrued over centuries that enables the entire forest to thrive. We need a logo that affords us the opportunity to make an informed choice on behalf of the people and the forests in the centuries yet to come.”
The Globe and Mail Editorial on a future without oil: “A near-term future of less oil gas exploration and development, and thereafter long-term production decline, would be jarring to Canada’s economy, particularly to British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and, of course, Alberta.”