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Judge fines woman $1,500 for blocking logging road, praises 'respectful, peaceable' protesters

A woman who stuck her arm inside a “sleeping dragon” device while blocking a logging road in the Fairy Creek area in May has been fined $1,500 in B.C. Supreme Court by a judge who called her and some of her co-accused “disciplined adherents to the standards of non-violent disobedience.”

Nicole Jaques, 26, admitted to criminal contempt of an injunction granted in April to Surrey-based logging company Teal Jones, which bars people from blocking logging roads.

A battle over the fate of old growth in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew has seen more than 1,000 people arrested and attracted international attention.

Jaques will have $500 of the fine waived, providing she does not breach any court orders, including the existing injunction, and pays the balance within a year, Justice Douglas Thompson said in his decision released in Nanaimo this week.

Jaques’ right arm was inside one end of a PVC pipe, while another person had their arm inside the other end, with the two individuals’ arms roped together inside the pipe. The device is known as a sleeping dragon.

“It took the RCMP considerable time and effort to extract Ms. Jaques from the device,” Thompson said.

The judge noted that Jaques is an “upstanding member of the community” who teaches dance, works in a café, helps with shelter and food costs for her partner’s children, and struggles to make ends meet.

She feels despair at the continuing loss of important natural habitat and believes it is her duty to future generations to try and save what remains, said Thompson, who took into account that Jaques admitted to her contempt early on.

The judge said that as a group, those found to have been in contempt of court under the injunction are “respectful, intelligent, and peaceable by nature. “

“While militant in the sense that they believe strongly and are willing to go so far as illegal action in support of the cause of protecting what remains of old-growth temperate rainforest, they have generally been disciplined adherents to the standards of non-violent disobedience. Ms. Jaques fits this mould,” Thompson said.

“And, following a recognizable tradition of those in the past who have been driven by their conscience and motivated by the common good to disobey laws, she now steps forward without complaint or hesitation to accept the consequences of her civil disobedience.”

The Crown asked for a $1,500 fine, while Jaques’ lawyer sought a $300 fine.

The $1,500 fine was required to maintain the rule of law, Thompson said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com