Opinion

WEB EXTRA: Inside the Walbran protest

Demonstrators gather outside Victoria courthouse Jan. 4, 2016 before packing the public gallery where a B.C. Supreme Court judge extended injunction against interfering with Teal-Jones Group logging in the Walbran Valley. - Twitter
Demonstrators gather outside Victoria courthouse Jan. 4, 2016 before packing the public gallery where a B.C. Supreme Court judge extended injunction against interfering with Teal-Jones Group logging in the Walbran Valley.
— image credit: Twitter

Feedback continues to come in on my recent column on the orchestrated Walbran Valley logging protests.

Much of it is in the form of sniping and lecturing from professional protesters and paid canvassers who insist they are detecting, rather than promoting, public opposition to logging. They challenge my assertion that this is the most regulated working forest in the world, but none has yet suggested anywhere more restricted.

Many readers appreciate that they're not getting the whole story from media coverage, but are not sure how extensive it is. When it comes to protesters manipulating media, TV is more vulnerable than print, as illustrated by photos above and below.

When the logging company was in court Jan. 4, above was the scene outside the Victoria courthouse, where cameras aren't allowed inside and news outlets need visuals. Note the yellow banner of the Council of Canadians, a major funder and organizer of protests against pretty well everything these days, as well as the identified organizers, Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee. These outfits provide media spokespersons, but are never questioned themselves.

Local media habitually describe this group as representing the general public, after they packed into the courtroom and made as much noise as they could without being removed by sheriffs. Professional protest groups hold workshops to train people to push as far as they can.

Even the judge referred to the crowd as representing the public, a naive notion to say the least.

Below is a candid photo of the Walbran 'direct action' team, which pretends not to be affiliated with any of the organizations shown above because they're the reason for the injunction. This is far in the woods, with no media present, taken last Nov. 15.

Note the video cameras, one on poncho guy's head, one in a phone and a third one in the hand of the fellow at the back with the vest. Their intent is to disrupt the crew by blocking its equipment, but more importantly they hope to provoke a confrontation so they can capture video, edit it to make it appear to be an unprovoked infringement of their rights, and release it to their own websites and to media.

TV eats this kind of thing up, and protesters can sensationalize these things themselves in hopes they 'go viral.'

The sophisticated protest continues, with an event at University of Victoria at the end of this month to present the work of an entomologist who has been studying insect species in the forest canopy. It's co-sponsored by the Friends of Carmanah-Walbran and UVic environmental students.

Great work, to be sure, but what isn't mentioned is the vast park that has been established to preserve just this habitat. One of my critics objected to my use of the term "vast," claiming that the 7,000 hectares of the Walbran Valley portion already protected isn't really much by B.C. standards.

The entire Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park is 16,450 hectares. They won this 'war in the woods' in 1995, and B.C. has more parks and protected areas than anywhere else in North America. But that doesn't matter to people who need another crisis.

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