“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – Joni Mitchell

A number of citizens have been gathered at Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island, demonstrating against the provincial government’s decision to create a 2 hectare parking lot. On February 24, 2004, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia and the Attorney General of the Province of British Columbia commenced an action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against “John Doe 1 through John Doe 50” and “Jane Doe 1 through Jane Doe 50”.

In this curious proceeding, the government’s lawyers have alleged that the Does have trespassed on Crown lands and have intentionally interfered with the Crown’s use and enjoyment of these public lands. The government seeks damages, interest and court costs from the Does.

We have responded on behalf of Maureen Sager by filing a Statement of Defence alleging that the proceeding is a SLAPP suit and an abuse of the court’s process. We have also served notice to conduct examinations of Attorney General Plant and Minister Barisoff on Friday, March 5, 2004 in Nanaimo. The government’s lawyers have responded by saying that these Ministers of the Crown will not attend.

The issues arising in this case may be addressed in Nanaimo on March 8, 2004, when the government seeks to have an application for an injunction heard. If granted, the injunction would restrain all the Does, and everyone else having notice from being in something called a “working area”. According to the usual practice in British Columbia in these cases, anyone who refused to obey such an order would be arrested an become subjected to contempt of court proceedings. The courts tend to deal with such matters harshly. For example, Betty Krawczyk recently completed a jail sentence of the equivalent of 14 months imposed for contempt of court after she refused to step off a public logging road.

The saga continues at 10:00 a.m. in Nanaimo Supreme Court on Monday, March 8, 2004. For more information, go to: www.cathedralgrove.com