KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Members of Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia who were involved in the blockade to save mainland moose habitat from destruction have scored a bit of a victory in their legal battle with Westfor Management Inc.
The forest defenders were fighting a broad and sweeping interlocutory injunction that would bar them from interfering with Westfor not just at the locations of the earlier blockades, but anywhere WestFor is licensed to conduct harvesting operations. Legal support was provided by Ecojustice. Jamie Simpson of Juniper Law also worked on the case.
In a decision dated March 11, Justice Kevin Coady found that Westfor had indeed made a convincing case against Extinction Rebellion and the individuals engaged in the blockades, and that the earlier injunction was valid.
However, he refused to issue the future constraints Westfor had sought to impose on the forest defenders.
“Westfor has not provided sufficient evidence to establish the high degree of probability that Extinction Rebellion will obstruct or otherwise interfere with future operations,” writes Justice Coady.
“It relies on the Rockypoint Lake and Napier Lake blockades to support its position. Similarly, it relies on the prior “herbicide protests” and protests on the Halifax MacDonald Bridge. I have reviewed Extinction Rebellion’s social media posts and find they advocate for general resistance but not specific action,” the decision states.
As well, Justice Coady did not award costs against Extinction Rebellion.
“This organization, and similar public interest groups, are well-intentioned and play a role in our modern-day democracy,” he writes.
“This outcome was what we felt would be a real win. If they threw out both the broad part of the injunction and didn’t make us pay court costs, that was better than we were expecting,” Nina Newington told the Nova Scotia Advocate.
Newington is one of the forest defenders who was arrested late last Fall. She has frequently acted as a spokesperson for the group.
Meanwhile, these same constraints thrown out by Justice Coady are also contained in an undertaking the forest defenders were obliged to sign after their arrest. Newington wonders if this undertaking could now be amended, given Justice Coady’s decision.
The forest defenders are not out of the woods yet, as they still face criminal charges for barricading the two access roads. On March 15 dates will be set for future court action in this matter at the Digby court house.
Robert Devet is a reporter and the editor of the Nova Scotia Advocate, where this story was originally published.