Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg

FOI documents: North Cowichan councillor asks forest lobby group to pen his motion

Tek Manhas insults residents who don’t share his view

A motion by North Cowichan Councillor Tek Manhas asking the industry lobby group Resource Works to speak to council was penned not by Manhas but by Resource Works itself, freedom-of-information documents obtained by sixmountains.ca reveal.

In the documents, Manhas also insults those voters who don’t agree with his pro-logging position on the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve. He is the only councillor who has voted in favour of logging the forest reserve while a consultation process — which he supported — is underway to determine if citizens want any more logging.

“I hope all is well,” Manhas writes Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir in a June 12, 2021, email. “Please look at the North Cowichan agenda for June 16, 2021 and you will see a motion …to invite (UBC forest ecologist) Dr Suzanne Simard to speak to North Cowichan council.

“I would like to introduce at the same meeting a notice of motion to have you or somebody from your group to also present.

“We need not only the prevailing view of our council but the views of the working people and I believe the majority of North Cowichaners.

“If you agree please send me a motion that would do Justice to your organization and the sane people of North Cowichan.”

Council’s Standards of Conduct policy requires councillors to treat the public with dignity, show sensitivity around comments and language that may be perceived as derogatory, and value the role of diverse perspectives and debate in decision making.

Two days after Manhas’ request, on June 14, Muir, who is also CEO of Headwaters Strategy Group and a registered federal lobbyist, suggested the following motion:

“That Council direct the Mayor and Staff to:

(1) Invite Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir to provide Council with a virtual or in person presentation on the organization's recent report, ‘Forestry in BC: Setting the record straight’ as a method of building awareness about the present status of forest practices and forest management in British Columbia.

(2) Invite Resource Works to provide input to any North Cowichan review and public engagement activities that concern forestry.

Muir then asks: “Does this reflect what you had in mind?”

Manhas replies: “This is perfect.”

At council’s July 21 meeting, Manhas moved that exact motion — word for word.

Council declined to specifically invite Resource Works to provide input into a review of the forest reserve. However, Council agreed that Resource Works could provide a virtual or in-person presentation on its Forestry in BC report.

On Aug. 18, Muir (https://bit.ly/35VvyQ4) sped through a 12-minute, power-point presentation that provided little of value on the forest reserve. At the end, councillors had no questions.

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— Larry Pynn Sept. 7, 2021

Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg