[S.I.S.I.S. note: Quite apart from the fact that the BC Supreme Court has no lawful jurisdiction over unceded territory - see http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/sov/petcan.html - Justice Bruce Hutchison's career is not known for decisions finding Aboriginal Rights over Resource interests.
The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]
VICTORIA -- A B.C. Supreme Court judge reserved decision Friday in a case with widespread implications for B.C.'s forest industry and native Indians.
Justice Robert Hutchison said he will rule Thursday on an attempt by the Kitkatla Indian band to stop International Forest Products Ltd. from clearcut logging on about 100 hectares of old-growth forest just south of Prince Rupert.
A week ago, the court granted the Kitkatla an interim injunction -- stopping all logging on about 30 hectares of land -- but the band is seeking to make the injunction broader and permanent. The forest industry says that would set a precedent that would affect logging operations throughout B.C. and have a devastating effect on the provincial economy.
After hearing legal arguments Friday, Hutchison left the interim injunction in place until his decision is handed down. Key to the issue is whether the Kitkatla were properly consulted before Interfor logging operations began this spring. The right to consultation was embodied in the landmark Delgamuukw decision by the Supreme Court of Canada last December.
Interfor maintains it took great efforts to contact and consult with the Kitkatla but the band says it was token consultation meant only to meet the company's needs. "It has to be actual and meaningful consultation," Kitkatla lawyer Jack Woodward told the court Friday.
Outside the court, Woodward called the judge's decision to leave the injunction in place "a huge victory" for the Kitkatla. "It's a chance for us to catch our breath."
The Kitkatla dispute is believed to be the first since Delgamuukw in which a native band is challenging a forest company over logging rights.
If the Kitkatla are victorious, it could send shockwaves through the entire forestry industry, which uses the same consulting methods as Interfor.
"It's an extremely critical case," said Interfor area manager Don McMillan. "There are a lot of questions being asked in the boardrooms of the province."