Logging trucks are assembling for their third rally in six months Tuesday, this time heading for the B.C. legislature as politicians prepare for the NDP government budget.
Organized through a Facebook group called B.C. Forestry Alliance, the laid-off workers and contractors rolled more than 100 logging trucks into downtown Vancouver last September to send a message to Premier John Horgan at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Now they’re calling for another run to Victoria to deliver a petition calling for “working forest” designation along with growing parks and protected areas.
“We see a need to defend the working land base that is being eroded at an alarming and unsustainable rate, the invitation states. “Come to the B.C. Communities Forestry Rally and show your support – please wear your high-vis shirts and vests!”
Laid-off forest contractors and mill workers from Vancouver Island also converged on the legislature Dec. 11, calling for an end to the long-running strike against Western Forest Products that finally led to a union vote on a tentative agreement this week. Another issue driving political action is NDP government changes to logging rules to force more processing of Crown land timber.
Their rallies have been law-abiding, with workers describing the impact of a province-wide slump in B.C.’s core traditional industry. In both cases, industry representatives got private meetings with Forests Minister Doug Donaldson and his senior officials.
Finance Minister Carole James is to deliver her third full budget on Tuesday, with a three-year revenue forecast for Crown timber, natural gas and other natural resources. Personal income taxes are expected to rise as B.C. ramps up the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project, and the federally-owned Trans Mountain oil pipeline gets its twinning project underway.
Coastal Gaslink was the stated goal of Tuesday’s legislature protest, which turned ugly and was denounced by Horgan and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. A six-day tent camp was set up first, with demands to stop the RCMP from enforcing a court order against supporters of a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who reject Canadian jurisdiction.
B.C. legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas obtained a rare court order including an enforcement order Thursday, to prevent the blockade thrown up around the building Tuesday in an effort to stop the Horgan government’s throne speech from being delivered. Victoria Police are investigating reports of assault by the mostly student crowd that turned away MLAs, staff and journalists, in some cases spitting or screaming obscenities as they demanded a halt to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline across northern B.C.