OTTAWA - The Green Party of Canada denounces the RCMP’s unjustified use of force against peaceful protestors at Fairy Creek, Vancouver Island.
“The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, a Charter right, and must be protected by the government and respected by its agencies, including the RCMP,” said Green Party justice critic Dyanoosh Youssefi. “This right is particularly salient at a time when continued logging and extraction both threaten the future of our planet and undermine Indigenous claims to their traditional lands.”
The protesters at Fairy Creek have assembled to draw attention to the logging of the area’s old-growth forest, one of the few remaining patches of old growth left on southern Vancouver Island. Videos and eye-witness accounts of events show that, in recent weeks, the RCMP has been using increasingly heavy-handed and aggressive tactics to remove peaceful protestors. These tactics include pepper spray and pulling and dragging people on the ground. The RCMP’s use of force, in addition to its unreasonable and unlawful blocking of access to certain areas, raise concerns about the use of their authority and power.
Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul is calling on the RCMP to respect the rights of protestors, to use their authority with great care and within the limits permitted by the law, and to abstain from using unreasonable force.
“In the current situation, we ask the RCMP to pause their actions, and urge the British Columbia government to intervene to protect this sensitive and critical ecosystem,” said Ms. Paul. “We are particularly concerned about reports that Indigenous, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ people are being targeted by the RCMP. We further urge the force to pay heed to the presence of systemic racism in policing.”
“Over the past few months, Canadians have been dismayed to watch officers use unreasonable force, violence, and, too often, paramilitary equipment to violently remove protestors and powerless homeless persons and their allies. These scenes have unfolded from Vancouver Island, to Toronto, to Halifax. This abuse of power must stop,” Youssefi said.
Canadians will continue to exercise the right to protest against continued depletion of natural resources. The Green Party of Canada stands up for land stewardship and the protection of old-growth forests.
Greens have been urging the Liberal government to take action on old-growth protection for the past year. In August 2020, Green Party MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) visited Fairy Creek when the blockades began. The party issued a press release the same month. Since then, Manly has introduced Motion 71 in the House of Commons, sent four letters to Liberal ministers, and sponsored over 60 parliamentary petitions calling for concrete federal action to protect old-growth ecosystems, finance their long-term conservation, and support Indigenous-led initiatives. Manly has also criticized the BC government’s use of a revenue sharing agreement with the Pacheedaht First Nation to impose a gag order on the community and incite division.
Beth Eden, deputy critic for environment, commented: “Old-growth forests hold spiritual and physical significance to Indigenous Peoples and are essential for our ecological stability: our air, soil and water systems. They play a vital role in ecological processes which cannot be carried out by younger trees. There is no economic figure that can outweigh the value of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek and across Canada.”
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