A British Columbia man says he was briefly hospitalized on the 24th day of a hunger strike to protest ancient logging, but plans to go without food until the end of the month before joining d others to step up actions against the government.
Howard Breen, 68, said a ‘death watch team’ at his Nanaimo home noticed he had blurred vision, loss of balance due to low blood pressure and back pain. around the kidneys before an ambulance was called early Sunday morning.
He said a doctor and his daughter, a cardiac nurse, determined late Saturday that he needed medical attention because he was at risk of kidney or heart damage.
“We had a vote, and I abstained,” he said on Sunday. “All I said was, ‘Please let me go as far as I can. “”
Breen, a member of the Save Old Growth group, said his condition deteriorated after he stopped drinking fluids on Thursday, but started drinking herbal teas again after spending three hours in hospital.
His decision to seek treatment was “based on science”, he said, “something the current government is not acting on when it comes to climate and forests”.
Breen said Forests Minister Katrine Conroy spoke with him and fellow hunger striker Brent Eichler by phone on Friday, but declined to have a Zoom meeting that would be recorded and available to the public.
Conroy said in a statement Saturday that she urged both men to protect their health as the province works to protect ancient forests.
The Forestry Department did not respond to a request for comment from Conroy on Sunday.
Breen said activists are planning a “citizen arrest” of Conroy at a Forest Industries Council conference in Vancouver next week.
Prime Minister John Horgan could also be targeted as part of the group’s efforts to stop all ancient logging, which they consider “crimes against humanity and nature”, he said.
“This is not a physical execution of a citizen’s warrant,” Breen said.
Police will be asked to make the arrests, the same tactic he and other members of the Extinction Rebellion group tried against then-federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in 2019 when she made an announcement in the Victoria area.
However, Breen said police arrested him after he pulled out restraints like the ones those officers had previously used to arrest protesters. He was not charged because the purpose was for the police to make the arrest, Breen added.
“In the minds and hearts of Canadians, we are reinforcing the consciousness-altering mindset that we are empowered to defend our democracy and our rights.
Thirty-three other Save Old Growth activists planned to join the hunger strike until the end of April, Breen said.
Two members of the group were arrested last week after allegedly chaining themselves to a 227-kilogram barrel placed in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island.
“We only allow these types of actions with the most seasoned activists, because it’s not the sensitive souls who can be so vulnerable,” Breen said, adding that any action aimed at having “the highest level of success” will remain non-violent.
Save Old Growth activists also blocked other major highways and bridges, angering some motorists.
Eichler, 57, who said he had been on a 31-day hunger strike, noted the group was not calling for an end to all logging in British Columbia.
“We have to have houses for people and that sort of thing. But we cannot continue to reduce the very small amount of old growth forest that remains in our ecosystem,” he said.
“Once they’re gone, it’ll be like cod (fishing) on the East Coast. Governments were warned by scientists that cod were going extinct. We still don’t have a commercial fishery in eastern Canada today, decades later.
Earlier this month, Conroy announced that the BC government was working with First Nations to postpone logging on more than one million hectares of old-growth forest at risk of permanent loss, an area greater than 4,100 Stanley Parks.
— By Camille Bains in Vancouver
The Canadian Press
British ColumbiaClimate changeEnvironmentForestryNanaimo