NDP leader Jagmeet was challenged on Thursday by a small group of young environmentalists after an available media outlet in Toronto over his views on old-fashioned logging at Fairy Creek in British Columbia and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The Climate Justice Toronto group rolled out a banner that read “Support Fairy Creek” and demanded that he support an end to all old growth logging in BC
“He’s going to lose votes in BC if he does not take a firm stand on this,” said Niklas Agarwal, a 25-year-old climate activist from Toronto.
“This must be integrated if he is to win the youth vote.”
Singh would not unequivocally give his support to the group’s cause.
If he did, Singh would bring himself into conflict with NDP Prime Minister John Horgan, whose government is allowing old-fashioned logging to continue, even though it has approved a request from three First Nations to postpone logging in part of their territories that include Fairy Creek.
Fairy Creek Watershed is one of Vancouver Island’s last remaining unprotected old growth populations in coastal temperate rainforests with some trees up to 2,000 years old.
The area is in the traditional area of Pacheedaht, Huu-ay-aht and Ditidaht First Nations, which in June issued the declaration of postponing old growth in the area for two years while making plans to manage their resources.
Pacheedaht’s chief and council support deforestation and have condemned the protesters’ actions, although some members support the blockades.
Singh countered the arguments of Climate Justice Toronto activists by declaring that he is a staunch defender of indigenous rights, and a logging decision cannot be made without First Nations input.
“You would not remove the rights of natives,” Singh told the group.
“We can not come in as settlers and tell them what to do.”
Logging company in court this week
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was also challenged by protesters over Fairy Creek logging during a previous campaign stop in Vancouver.
The Fairy Creek protest is now the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. As of this week, organizers say more than 1,000 arrests have been made by the RCMP, which is enforcing a ban on protests.
Protesters arrived at the site about a year ago to prevent Surrey-based timber company Teal-Jones Group from working.
A subsidiary of the company, Teal Cedar Products, is in hearings this week at the BC Supreme Court and is asking for a one-year extension of the injunction.
Lawyers representing a number of protesters are also challenging Teal Cedar’s application this week, arguing that the extension should not be granted due to the severity of climate change.
SE | NDP leader Jagmeet Singh avoids questions about TMX:
The company obtained the order against the protesters on April 1, which the RCMP has been enforcing since mid-May amid criticism of excessive use of force and obstruction of the press.
Singh spoke out against police force tactics escalating violence during a Sept. 1 virtual town hall with BC residents.
Singh pledges $ 500 million to support indigenous leadership programs to help protect ancient forests and promote reconciliation.
Agarwal praised the commitment, but urged Singh to be more courageous and take a clear stand on what the NDP would do with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Singh on Thursday avoided a question about whether he believes Canada can meet its emissions targets with the expansion project in operation.
While Singh says he does not support TMX, he has not committed to stopping the project.
Instead, Singh said he would rate TMX because the NDP does not have all the details of what the federal government owns and how to find the best way forward.
“It’s really disappointing because at the last election he was very firm in his stance against TMX to see him relapse,” Agarwal said.
“Jagmeet claims to be about youth. He films TikToks about us. He sounds biting about us. But does he actually speak to our questions?”