Close to three dozen people, most of them local, took part in a demonstration at the Spahats viewpoint north of Clearwater on Tuesday afternoon to protest Canfor’s plans to log nearby.
“We’re here because Canfor and the B.C. Liberals are in bed together,” said Trevor Goward, one of the organizers. “A million dollar donation to the B.C. Liberals has bought Canfor the right to drive Wells Gray’s mountain caribou to extinction.”
(According to a recent article in a Vancouver newspaper, Canfor was number 10 in a list of 50 top donors to the BC Liberal party, contributing $850,000 since 2005).
Goward said that Canfor is preparing to cut hundreds of hectares of critical habitat for caribou in the Upper Clearwater Valley.
He noted that the federal government is reviewing a petition from a coalition of environmental groups for an emergency stop order on the logging.
“But that doesn’t stop Canfor,” he said. “This is a legal issue. This shouldn’t be happening in the middle of an election under cover of night.”
The Upper Clearwater resident said that the forest company’s only excuse is that it is creating jobs.
“Yet by its own admission Canfor has over-cut and is running out of wood. How soon before Canfor closes the mill and walks away?” he asked. “Canfor has done it before, and Canfor will do it again.”
Goward compared caribou to canaries in a coal-mine, or in this case, the Canfor clearcut.
“What happens to Caribou today happens to the rest of us tomorrow,” he said “We’re here to say that we’re here to stay. The logging and the corruption must stop.”
Goward was speaking on behalf of the Upper Clearwater Referral Group, which was set up several years ago to work with the forests ministry to implement a land use plan for Upper Clearwater called the Guiding Principles.
Other speakers included Erik Milton, who was representing Wells Gray Gateway Protection Society.
Several people were making videos of the rally, apparently for distribution on social media.
A trailer for a film titled “Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest” recently appeared on social media. The trailer includes landscape scenes shot in the North Thompson as well as comments from Goward. Produced by the Mountain Caribou Initiative, the film is to be released next June.