Forestry protesters tried smoke on the water as they attempted to disrupt industry on Nanaimo’s waterfront this week.
Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo held a protest at the Port of Nanaimo wharf and Port Drive on Tuesday, June 22. XR member Howard Breen, accompanied by kayakers, swam out to the log booms next to a cargo ship being loaded with raw logs, set off a smoke bomb, and tried to disrupt the loading of the vessel by super-gluing himself to one of the logs next to the ship. Protesters on land, meanwhile, blocked traffic on 1 Port Drive.
“What we wanted to do is clearly show our concern about the larger issue of exporting B.C. jobs and connecting that to the old-growth strategy,” Breen said.
He questioned the provincial government’s intentions to try to modernize the forestry industry.
“How do you do that without addressing raw logs?” Breen asked. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about that over the years. Do we have to wait for our forests to burn before we begin to realize that our carbon sinks have to be treasured far more than they currently are?”
Capt. Satinder Singh, Port of Nanaimo vice-president of marine operations and harbour master, said that while the incident ended up having a negligible impact on operations, but had the potential of “compromising the trade objectives of Canada.”
He said in a statement that the port engaged the RCMP and “with combined effort and timely response, the individual involved was removed from the NPA waters and property subsequently.” B.C. Ambulance Services was also on scene to provide treatment to the protester.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said an officer used nail polish remover to get the protester unstuck from the log. The protester was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court at a later date to face a charge of mischief.
Leah Morgan, Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo coordinator, was one of the kayakers participating in the protest. She said in the release that the B.C. government should expect “an escalation in our disruptions” unless it bans all exports of raw logs from old-growth forests, imposes higher taxes on log exports from second-growth forests and introduces policies to “decolonize” B.C. forestry and accelerate the return of decision-making to First Nations.
The province, earlier this month, announced that it would honour the request of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations and defer old-growth harvesting in the Fairy Creek watershed.
The province has also committed to adopting all recommendations from an old-growth review panel report last year.