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  • Premier Horgan's Orwellian moment


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    BC Premier John Horgan reveals a new strategy to avoid meaningful change while accusing old-growth forest defenders of seeking a return to colonialism

     

    GARRY MERKEL AND AL GORLEY, after calling for a “paradigm shift” in how old forest is valued in BC, probably had no idea that John Horgan would move so fast. But the premier has spoken and with the stroke of a press conference BC has moved from the era of Talk and Log into the new paradigm of Talk with First Nations and Log.

    Here’s the situation Horgan faces: There’s growing public support for blockades of old-growth logging at Fairy Creek Rainforest in Horgan’s own riding. These actions involve hundreds of people—and it’s an All Ages event—committing acts of civil disobedience and risking arrest by a militarized police unit which has put restrictions on press access to the conflict zone and has denied the public the right to be on publicly-owned land. It’s happening daily and is unlikely to stop until the police start shooting people.

    In the face of all that, what does the premier chose to do? He releases a series of forestry-related “policy intentions.” None of these addressed the old-growth issue beyond vague language about possible future short-term logging deferrals. All of Horgan’s intentions seemed to depend on interminable private talks with First Nations.

    What was the premier thinking? In response to a question from a reporter, Horgan said, “The critical recommendation that’s in play at Fairy Creek is consulting with the title holders. If we were to arbitrarily put deferrals in place there, that would be a return to the colonialism that we have so graphically been brought back to this week by the discovery in Kamloops.”

    Horgan seemed to be saying that solving the crisis in public trust around this issue would be like murdering 215 First Nations kids, again.

    The premier’s convoluted rhetoric speaks for itself. The question that needs considering is this: Is Horgan using the paucity of First Nations’ treaty agreements to protect the forest industry from real change? He’s claiming that the government can’t make decisions about a new direction for forestry in BC unless those decisions include consultation with First Nations. Is this actually the case? Or have Horgan and his cronies in the forest industry just figured out a new, post-colonial version of talk and log?

    We might judge the answer to that on the basis of his government’s record of signing treaties with First Nations. In nearly 5 years in office, approaching year 30 of a process that began in the early ’90s, Horgan has signed exactly zero treaties, a record that’s far worse than former premier Christie Clark’s.

    With no actual record of successfully negotiating with First Nations for what really matters to them, Horgan appears to be using the injustice done to those communities to hide behind in order to avoid making hard decisions on new directions. Directions that he doesn’t yet know how to sell to his party’s labour base, new directions that reflect the need—in light of the climate and biodiversity crises and falling forest employment—to reframe our entire relationship with forests. The irony here is that this deeper, necessary reframing meshes with First Nations’ traditional wisdom and practices regarding the use of forests. Turning them into feller-buncher operators doesn’t.

    The BC treaty process, dragged out by endless consultations by an army of highly paid BC government lawyers, has bankrupted First Nations and left them desperate to recover financially. Those debts, and the damage they inflicted on First Nations communities for nearly three decades, are now being used by Horgan to keep firm the forest industry’s death grip on BC’s old-growth forests, just as those debts have been used in other resource disputes.

    That’s the real “return to colonialism” that’s taking place.

    Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner, called today’s announcement an “Orwellian nightmare.” He added, “The old-growth crisis calls for immediate short-term funding for First Nations and forestry workers seeking an alternative to logging the last old-growth. Defending business as usual will only exacerbate conflicts like the one happening over Fairy Creek and undermine options for communities seeking an alternative to destructive resource extraction.”

    Horgan’s performance truly was an Orwellian moment.

    David Broadland is going to write about forests and politics until First Nations title and rights are reflected in just treaties for all BC First Nations, and trees are valued for what they provide just by standing in a forest.

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    Under Horgan's current regime , it is ok to clear cut log old growth without any first nation approval, discussions or  involvement, but he scolds us for colonialism if some try to  protect that same old growth with a temporary deferral.  This would save it in  so when in 2-3 years the discussions with first nations are occurring over, there are still some essential benefits,  ecosystem services and forest left for decision making and future land management.

    How did Horgan defer 9 parcels with the stroke of a pen when  he used them as vote bait last October 2020, when ne called an NDP snap election?  There were no 2 and 3 year first nation negotiations occurring in those 9 OG protected areas, sounds pretty status quo colonial to me, and that was only 6 months ago, Horgan is inconsistent with his  treatment of the Fairy Creek intact old growth watershed. 

    Who are his advisors and scientists, they need to inform him better before press conferences, where is the rest of his silent caucus, they need to correct his mistakes?  We know where his support lies; 3 industry members were quoted in his press release- no academics, environmentalist, scientists or community members  the one FN voice spoke for all BC grass roots communities, and his municipal government voice came from 2 forestry dependent towns, what about the 1000+ non forestry dependent voices?

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    The only new forest policy of the Horgan government and the forest industry is inverted colonialism.  The policy takes advantage of known divisions within first nations among elected council members, hereditary chiefs and indigenous youth.  It does so by offering scraps of timber around the province, especially in contentious areas where BC Timber Sales or an industry licensee would come under public criticism for the clearcut logging.   Where hereditary chiefs and indigenous youth want land claims settled instead of settling for the money derived from clearcutting their traditional territories, often the elected council will settle for the bait of easy money. Through this colonial tactic of divide-and-conquer, the Horgan government keeps the provincial rate of logging at full throttle with the least opposition from the public all under the guise of reconciliation -- that is fake reconciliation.  If anyone is walking in the shadow of the horrors of past colonialism it is Horgan and the BC NDP, not the forest defenders at Fairy Creek as Horgan outrageously intimated in his non-announcement on Tuesday June 1st. 

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    Guest ON Horgan and colonialism

    Posted

    Well, Horgan spoke, throwing possible agreements to log and profit with 'we don't know who'. at the First Nation Level. The question is' Who will be consulted as part of FIrst Nations, only those willilng to log and profit…elected councils? … corporation with agreements with members of a First Nations?… It's a mine field of opportunity for those who want 'exploitation and profits' at ALL cost. It may just be the very latest in 'colonization' procedures, directly from on high at the Horgan's headquarters.

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    57 minutes ago, Guest Anthony Britneff said:

    The only new forest policy of the Horgan government and the forest industry is inverted colonialism.  The policy takes advantage of known divisions within first nations among elected council members, hereditary chiefs and indigenous youth.  It does so by offering scraps of timber around the province, especially in contentious areas where BC Timber Sales or an industry licensee would come under public criticism for the clearcut logging.   Where hereditary chiefs and indigenous youth want land claims settled instead of settling for the money derived from clearcutting their traditional territories, often the elected council will settle for the bait of easy money. Through this colonial tactic of divide-and-conquer, the Horgan government keeps the provincial rate of logging at full throttle with the least opposition from the public all under the guise of reconciliation -- that is fake reconciliation.  If anyone is walking in the shadow of the horrors of past colonialism it is Horgan and the BC NDP, not the forest defenders at Fairy Creek as Horgan outrageously intimated in his non-announcement on Tuesday June 1st. 

     

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    Thank you for this excellent dissection of Horgan's doublespeak. We need all Canadians, and the world, to recognize this is more than a "local" issue. We don't need a war in the woods. We need an end to fractured ecosystems and communities. Retrain the loggers or let them log second growth. The industry has taken far more than its share and they last trees are worth vastly more standing than turned into "product".

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    I agree with your conclusions, but you've got a lot of details wrong about "treaties" and how government to government negotiations work.

    First, debt from treaty negotiations is far less of a burden after the Federal government forgave treaty loans in 2019.

    Second, the BC treaty commission has been stalled for years, and is not the preferred forum for negotiations for most First Nations in the province. A number of "reconciliation agreements," being stepwise and not final, and tailored to each First Nation, have been signed in recent years under both Liberal and NDP governments. These have transferred cash, land, and decision-making authority to First Nations.

    Third, Horgan's reference to title holders is to the Pacheedaht First Nation and their request for protesters to leave. These protesters are free to continue to protest both the NDP and the Pacheedaht governments.

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    3 hours ago, Guest Northern Dude said:

    I agree with your conclusions, but you've got a lot of details wrong about "treaties" and how government to government negotiations work.

    First, debt from treaty negotiations is far less of a burden after the Federal government forgave treaty loans in 2019.

    Second, the BC treaty commission has been stalled for years, and is not the preferred forum for negotiations for most First Nations in the province. A number of "reconciliation agreements," being stepwise and not final, and tailored to each First Nation, have been signed in recent years under both Liberal and NDP governments. These have transferred cash, land, and decision-making authority to First Nations.

    Third, Horgan's reference to title holders is to the Pacheedaht First Nation and their request for protesters to leave. These protesters are free to continue to protest both the NDP and the Pacheedaht governments.

    Hi Northern Dude, thanks for your comments.

    You are correct that Canada forgave debt incurred by First Nations negotiating treaties in 2019. That did not undo the 30-year-long impact on First Nations communities trying to negotiate treaties at the expense of being able to address other pressing problems in their communities. The impact was cumulative and began long before treaty negotiations began, as you know. Forgiveness of the treaty debts didn't instantly make good the long years of financial repression. The debt has been built into these communities' physical condition.

    Under those conditions of economic repression, who could fault First Nations that entered into agreements focussed on extraction of natural resources? The ministry of forests is the primary agency through which the substance of these agreements is determined.

    With the interests of the ministry of forests and the interests of the forest industry being indistinguishable, such agreements naturally represent the interests of the forest industry.

    No community in BC, First Nations or otherwise, is unanimous in its view of these issues. A part of the Pacheedaht community wrote a letter that asked protesters to leave. That part of the Pacheedaht were apparently influenced by the BC government to write such a letter. The roots of that letter were apparently created by the resource agreement the Pacheedaht have signed with Teal and the Province. Other members of the Pacheedaht have welcomed the efforts to protect old-growth forest in Pacheedaht territory.

    We don't know the details of the agreement between the Pacheedaht, Teal and the ministry of forests. The ministry's Harvest Billing System shows no volume going to the Pacheedaht, whereas it does show a small volume going to Ditidaht Forestry (TFL 46 includes both Ditidaht and Pacheedaht traditional territories). How small? About one-half of one percent of the cut on TFL 46 is assigned to the Ditidaht. How much goes to the Pacheedaht? We don't know, but if it's similar to the Ditidaht, it's a tiny fraction of what Teal Cedar is booming off to Surrey.

    This sounds like continuing economic repression to me.

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    Unfortunately, due to successive governments incapable of severing their tendons to big logging businesses needs, the idea of the profit line and jobs has been swallowed, hook line and sinker. In reality, like old growth logging, the status quo keeps marching on under the outdated laws, regulations and current problems. Only civil disobedience will ever change the mad king. Throw him out.

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  • The NDP's old-growth logging deferrals

    The map below shows FLNRORD's mapping of the 9 areas where logging deferrals were announced in September 2020. It also shows the intended deferral in the Central Walbran Valley, which has not been publicly announced. The mapping below shows that very little actual old-growth forest was included in the 9 deferrals that were announced. The Clayoquot deferrals includes a large part of Strathcona Park, as well as several parks in the Sound area, none of which were in any danger of being logged. Read more about this issue here.



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