The Municipal Logging Hoax

by a co-conspirator

In Summer 1989 the Provincial Gov’t (Liberal Party) decided to open up the Temagami region of northern Ontario to clear-cut logging. The indigenous people of the region (at that time known as the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, T-AA) had never ceded this land and opposed the logging. They were in the midst of a land claim at the time and had had a ban against all development since 1973.

The gov’t got a court to ok logging as the trees would grow back, but this is in fact some of the last old growth red and white pine on the continent.

The T-AA started a blockade of the logging road that was being built into the region that summer. A court injunction brought this to an end by the fall and environmentalists organized by a group called the Temagami Wilderness Society continued the blockade, which saw almost 300 (including the soon to be NDP premier of the province) arrested.

In Kingston we started local civil disobedience tactics aimed at our member of provincial parliament (also a Liberal). By the following February we had had almost 30 local arrests at his office, some after a weekend long occupation.

February 22nd 1990 we placed the attached notices in peoples mailboxes and tagged pretty much every sizable tree on boulevards and in parks. The media coverage had such excellent quotes as: “People were irate. They certainly got a response. It raised the consciousness of people” and “now I know how those people in Temagami feel.” Some had begun to organize neighbourhood committees to fight the cutting. The phone number was, of course, for the local MPP. We staged a sit-in in his office while the phones rang off the hook.

The provincial campaign was responsible for booting the Liberals out and getting the social democratic New Democratic Party in at the next election. This was stated by media pundits and the Liberal leader himself! It also won a cessation of the logging and serious negotiations on the land claim.

Unfortunately, the most recent election put a reactionary Progressive Conservative gov’t in power provincially and they have opened up the region again. This time to mining as well. We did a similar posting (the one shown below) in Sept. 1996, but this time it was done province-wide all on the same day. The number was that of the Minister in charge of Natural Resources — they hired on extra staff til the media had finally dispelled the “rumour.”

We followed it up with a pretty militant occupation of the Ministry of Natural resources HQ. A few folks were pepper sprayed and arrested. The campaign and the logging seems both to have stalled since then.

Ministry of Natural Resources

September 27, 1996

In a move aimed at eliminating the need for an exorbitant municipal tax this year, your city, acting in conjunction with the ministry, will begin a substantial harvest of hardwood trees currently standing on city property. As a result city logging crews will begin harvesting October 1 to effect removal of 5,000 trees in city parks and along city streets and boulevards.

This program will capitalize on the current high market values of oak and maple lumber and, in addition will provide much needed workfare opportunities for the newly implemented Community Placement Program.

The harvesting through the Community Placement Program is part of an overall provincial initiative to reduce municipal deficits through the liquidation of assets held as renewable resources. In the case of timber harvesting it will also help reduce city budgets for tree maintenance and sidewalk and road repairs made necessary by troublesome tree root systems.

Please note that all trees marked with fluorescent tape are slated for removal. Homeowners and residents with specific complaints should make use of the judicial appeal procedure which has been provided for by calling (416) 314-2301.

We trust that in support of the local economy and keeping the environment healthy citizens of Ontario will accommodate the temporary inconvenience of increased noise levels and road detours. Citizens should note that our pro-active replanting program will ensure the reforestation of Ontario city streets and parks within the next 125 years.

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On This Day in SniggleryJune 25, 2001: Michael Kinsley, editor of Slate, finally admits that the magazine’s report on the bizarre sport of monkey fishing was “willful inaccuracy.” (See News Trolls for more info)