Today the Wilderness Committee takes action

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today, June 20th, is another big day for parks in Manitoba. We’ve finally submitted a request to have a judge tell us whether logging roads are considered logging in parks.

Over the years, tens of thousands of Manitobans have signed opinion cards stating they wanted to see park logging ended. We know this because we collected them through the Wilderness Committee office, about 23,000 of them, and delivered them to the Manitoba legislature personally. In conversation, we once told the Conservation Minister that 9 out of every 10 people supported the park logging ban, and he replied he thought the figure was actually higher.
In November 2008, we celebrated and cheered, supporting the government’s decision to ban logging in parks, and on June 11, 2009, the park logging ban became law. Whiteshell, Nopiming, Clearwater Lake, and Grass River Provincial Parks were all protected from logging. Or so we thought.

Soon after, the government issued a license to let Tolko--the private logging corporation in northwestern Manitoba--build a logging road through a provincial park, and quashed our appeals of that road (arguing that a logging road is not actually logging). Then, 18 months went by with nothing. And then in March we found out they had started to bulldoze the road through the provincial park.

Today is the day I finally get to tell our members and supporters that the Wilderness Committee has acted, and taken the necessary next step to protect our parks. We have filed a Queen’s Bench 14.05 Rule Review, which is a respectful, responsible way to resolve the dispute between the government and the thousands of Manitobans who want their parks protected from logging.

This is the simple explanation of what a Queens Bench 14.05 Rule Review is: we are asking a judge to give us a legal definition—is a logging road considered logging or not? In planning out this next step, the Wilderness Committee and Manitoba Wildlands discussed this rule review with the Conservation Minister, and requested that the government pursue this judicial rule review with us. The Conservation Minister decided not to cooperate with us, and so the Wilderness Committee filed this action to clarify the law.

The park logging action is far from over. The government and our lawyers will both need to file briefs for a judge, and then we will wait until a decision is rendered, hoping there are no delays or legal proceedings that drag it on. We will launch an expedition to document the developments in our park, and keep informing Manitobans as things develop.

With your help and ongoing support, we will keep working to get permanent legal protection for our provincial parks.


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