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B.C. Supreme Court throws out logging company’s request for protester’s social media identities

Cooper Creek Cedar had asked for the disclosure of Last Stand West Kootenay’s accounts
RCMP are seen here making arrests May 17, 2022 near Argenta, B.C., north of Nelson. A group had been camped out protesting a logging company’s plans for the area. Photo: Louis Bockner

A West Kootenay logging company has lost its bid to have a group of protesters disclose the identities behind its social media accounts.

Cooper Creek Cedar had requested a B.C. Supreme Court justice in September 2022 order Last Stand West Kootenay to provide author information of its social media posts.

Both groups are in court after 17 people were arrested in May 2022 for allegedly blocking a forest service road to a contested logging area near Argenta. The company had previously won an injunction against interference in and around the Salisbury Creek area prior to the arrests.

Cooper Creek Cedar had asked for first and last names linked with Last Stand West Kootenay’s Facebook group, as well as their contact information and IP addresses of a number of individual Facebook and Instagram accounts, information from the domain provider and the B.C.-based software company ConnectionPoint Systems Inc.

The type of disclosure is known as a Norwich order, which are used during pre-trial discoveries to identify anonymous wrongdoers.

In her decision March 27, Justice Lindsay Lyster said she company never showed how the posts met the standard for tort law, which is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another in civil law, or breached the injunction.

“As a result, I have inadequate submissions on what misconduct is alleged regarding these accounts. On this point, as discussed below, I am skeptical that any unlawful conduct occurred in making the posts. All of these factors weigh against granting the Norwich order.”

It’s not clear what this means for the future of Cooper Creek Cedar’s case.

A scheduled hearing last July was delayed after Cooper Creek Cedar told court it intended to apply for the Crown to charge protesters with criminal contempt of court instead of civil contempt.

Noah Ross, a lawyer representing the protesters, said he isn’t sure if there will be further litigation.

“It seems like [Cooper Creek Cedar] got what they wanted, which was the camp clear.”

The RCMP’s actions in Argenta are also the subject of an independent investigation.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission is examining whether the RCMP “E” Division Community-Industry Response Group, which responds to protests against industrial projects in B.C., worked within the law and complied with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms while enforcing protesters in Argenta, Wet’suwet’en territory and the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island.

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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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