Plan to privatize public lands draws demonstrators

Hundreds of wood workers, students, environmentalists, First Nations and activists demonstrated on the steps of the Legislature on Saturday, March 27.

To illustrate the direction BC forest policy is taking under the Liberal government, the demonstrators marched backward from Centennial Square to the legislative lawn. Nine speakers, including Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Jessica Clogg of West Coast Environmental Law, criticized the numerous ways the BC government has given more control over public lands to corporate interests.

The so-called Working Forest Initiative would set aside for industrial logging virtually all public forests not currently in parks. The Initiative could designate legally-binding, guaranteed Timber Access targets over most public forests that will obstruct treaty settlements, biodiversity protection and the creation of new protected areas.

The working forest and related legislative changes will also facilitate the sale of public forest lands.

Illustrating their lack of commitment to representative democracy, the BC government has indicated it intends to implement the so-called Working Forest this spring, despite opposition from 97% of the 3000 individuals and groups who submitted comments on the initiative.

A similar Working Forest proposol put forward by the previous NDP government was defeated by a strong campaign of oppostion, which Dogwood Initiative helped to organize.

We believe this new version will be defeated by a groundswell of pressure from British Columbians and legal challenges from First Nations. Dogwood Initiative will be supporting both.

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