Logging protesters' tactics questioned after manure dumped at B.C. premier's office

Things got a bit messy at the B.C. premier’s constituency office on Wednesday morning, when old growth logging protesters delivered a rather unsightly gift.

Activists from the group Save Old Growth dumped five bags of fresh manure outside the front entrance of John Horgan’s community office in Langford.

“There was a girl standing in the parking lot and I said, ‘What are you guys doing!?’” said Misha Gervais, who works at a hair salon two doors down from Horgan’s office. Gervais said she was appalled to see manure being dumped on the sidewalk.

“We have people who come here in wheelchairs constantly. This is a hazard. We work here and this is absolutely disgusting and uncalled for,” she said.

It’s not the first time fresh fertilizer has been used in protest. In 2001, manure was dumped on the front lawn of George Puil, a former Vancouver councillor and chair of TransLink.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they go too far,” said Paul Quirk, a UBC political science professor and Phil Lind chair in U.S. politics and representation.

While protests are usually held to raise awareness and generate sympathy, Quirk says protesters who take extreme measures are not always looking for public support.

“It might just be for the hundreds or few thousands who are participating in these protests. If they like doing it, the protest leaders get benefits from doing it,” he said.

Quirk added demonstrations that interfere with the public, such as recent blockades on the Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver, or the 2020 anti-pipeline protest outside of John Horgan’s house, are not protected by law. They continue, he said, because of a lack of political will.

“(Politicians) are aware of there being a lot of sympathy for the protests. They’d be offending big parts of their constituency by removing them.”

Without strong penalties for protesters who infringe on the public, the disruptions will continue.

“June 13, (road) blockades will start up again,” said Sophia Papp, an organizer with Save Old Growth. “We’re asking (protesters) to take two weeks off work as it’s going to be full-time occupations and blockades."

Save Old Growth says the provincial government has failed to implement the recommendations from an old growth strategic review panel, and feels the current deferrals on logging old growth trees do not go far enough.

“Those deferrals are not permanent, and they’re not deferring areas that they would have logged otherwise,” said Papp. “It looks good and they have a lot of talk, but their tangible actions clearly speak otherwise.”