Jessica Ogden, who calls herself a water protector, not a protester, has lost an internal police complaint following several interactions with the RCMP and the legal system in 2019. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Jessica Ogden, who calls herself a water protector, not a protester, has lost an internal police complaint following several interactions with the RCMP and the legal system in 2019. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Kootenay logging blockader loses police complaint, files counterclaim against company

Court actions and police complaints stem from blockades in the Balfour and Argenta areas in 2019

A local woman has been unsuccessful in a formal complaint to the RCMP about the conduct of three of its officers at logging blockades she conducted in 2019 near Balfour and Meadow Creek.

Jessica Ogden alleged that officers did not follow up on her reports of threats of violence by truckers, failed to respond to a 911 call, did not follow proper procedures related to a civil injunction, did not investigate damage to her vehicle by truckers, arrested her without warrant or injunction, used excessive force when arresting her, and wrongfully jailed her.

“I saw myself as a peaceful protester being met with violence,” she told the Nelson Star in June.

Reserve Const. Fran Bethell investigated nine of Ogden’s allegations for the RCMP, and her findings were turned over to Staff Sgt. Jason Burndred, who dismissed her complaints in an Oct. 31 written decision.

Ogden says she plans to file an appeal of the decision with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, an independent body.

“I was quite surprised when I received the outcome of the RCMP complaint investigation,” she told the Nelson Star in an email Monday.

“Particularly to find out that the investigation was conducted by RCMP themselves, as it was my understanding when I filed the complaint that the investigation would be conducted by an independent third party. This process does not seem to represent citizens and is flawed in my opinion.”

Ogden has also filed a counterclaim in one of two civil suits brought against her this year by Cooper Creek Cedar, the logging company with timber rights in forests near Balfour and Argenta. The company’s lawsuits ask for damages, alleging that Ogden, because her 2019 blockades and their aftermath, caused the company to lose money and jeopardized its logging plans.

Argenta

In Ogden’s June 2020 response to the claim with regard to logging plans in the Salisbury Creek area near Argenta, she denied blocking the road, claiming that she was not in the Argenta area during the blockade in question.

She also responded that the point of the company’s legal action was to harass and intimidate her.

The matter has not come before a judge yet, but in the meantime Ogden has filed a counterclaim, asking the court to remove her name from the claim because she was not there, and to rule that the company’s suit violates her right to freedom from discrimination as well as her right to life, liberty and security of a person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ogden’s counterclaim also asks the court to order that Cooper Creek Cedar take a variety of actions to protect local ecosystems, to formally account for the greenhouse gases emitted by its cutblocks, to document the carbon that will not be sequestered as a result of the cutblocks, to conduct a study on the effects of clearcuts on downstream watersheds, and a number of other big-picture remedies related to ecosystem health and climate change.

She also asks for a permanent injunction against the company from pursuing its logging plan until the above-listed orders are complied with.

Balfour

In Ogden’s June 2020 response to the company’s claims against her related to the Balfour blockade, she agrees that she was there and did block the road. But she also intends to file a counterclaim in December that will ask for damages resulting from the time, lost money and inconvenience caused by what she calls the company’s procedural unfairness and legal mistakes that led to her arrest and imprisonment.

When these matters will come to court is unknown.

Related:

West Kootenay logging blockader files police complaint, is sued by company

• Nelson court grants injunction to logging company



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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