Husby Forest Products has won a court injunction against a logging protest at Collison Point / St’alaa Kun.
Writing in a judgment delivered Thursday, April 26, Hon. Justice Jasvinder Bill Basran of the B.C. Supreme Court found that Husby’s logging operation at Collison Point is legal, and the Haida Gwaii Land Protectors have no legal right to blockade it.
Justice Basran also found that the Council of the Haida Nation, an intervenor in the hearing, did raise a legitimate concern about possible over-harvesting of cedar at Collison.
However, the judge said there are other ways to challenge Husby on that point — such as with another court injunction against any more over-harvesting.
“What is entirely unacceptable is the defendants’ use of arbitrary self-help remedies that undermine the rule of law and the administration of justice,” said the judge.
“No matter how valid their concerns, a blockade involving the use of weapons that prevents Husby from conducting its lawful operations is completely unacceptable.”
According to the judgment, on March 13, the first day of the protest, a woman with a large hunting knife on her belt told Husby’s logging supervisor to move back. Another woman carrying a rifle removed its muzzle cap when Husby staff came near, while another carried an axe on her shoulder.
Since the blockade started, Husby has had to lay off 23 staff and 10 to 15 contractors. About $300,000 in payroll and benefits have gone unpaid to its workers, most of whom live on island.
Husby has also lost over $250,000 in other fixed costs, which are rising at $8,500 per day.
At least 15,000 tree seedlings will need to be destroyed because of the blockade, and about a quarter of Husby’s annual allowable cut — 47,600 m3 — is on the ground degrading.
The company did not try to recover costs from the protesters, and cannot seek costs from the CHN.
“The evidence is clear that the defendants are not acting on the direction, or under the auspices, of the CHN so Husby is not able to look to the CHN for recovery of its damages,” said Justice Basran.
Husby did not name any of the protesters in its application for an injunction. The CHN argued that the company should be required to, but the judge found there is precedent for similar injunctions against unnamed defendants.
Justice Basran said the protesters’ actions, which completely shut down Husby’s Collison Point operations, may constitute nuisance, conspiracy, interference with economic relations between Husby and its contractors, and may also amount to two Criminal Code violations: mischief and intimidation.
In the ruling, Justice Basran included an enforcement order that allows the RCMP to decide whether to arrest or remove people from the area.