Clear cutting protester feels duped after N.S. forestry minister skips meetup

·2 min read
Wednesday marked Day 17 of Jacob Fillmore's hunger strike outside Province House. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)
Wednesday marked Day 17 of Jacob Fillmore's hunger strike outside Province House. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)

The man engaged in a hunger strike in an effort to get a moratorium on clear cutting in Nova Scotia says he feels deceived after Lands and Forestry Minister Chuck Porter blew off a meeting planned for Wednesday.

Jacob Fillmore has been camped out in front of Province House, not eating, for 17 days — something he says he's doing out of frustration over what he considers government inaction to reduce clear cutting.

"I was lied to," Fillmore said in an interview. "I was told that [Porter] would meet me outside the legislature. I was standing outside the legislature. He knew I was here, he could have found me if he wanted to. He didn't."

Porter told reporters Wednesday that he never agreed to meet with Fillmore or anyone else in an official capacity. The minister said he agreed to stop by, if possible, adding there was no firm time or place set for the visit.

Deputy minister laid out plan for meeting

But that isn't what Porter's deputy minister, Paul Lafleche, told Fillmore on Tuesday.

In a video recorded during a sit-in that Fillmore conducted at the office of the Lands and Forestry Department, Lafleche can be heard telling Fillmore that Porter would come to see him between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday outside the legislature.

Porter said he passed by Province House at 8 a.m. on his way to a meeting in the building behind the legislature and didn't see Fillmore. He left that meeting around 10 a.m., got in his car and drove back home to Windsor without looking again for Fillmore.

Had he looked, he would have found Fillmore where the 25-year-old man has been for the last two weeks — standing in front of Province House on Hollis Street.

Porter says he'd 'be happy' to chat with Fillmore

"I'm sure I'll get a chance to see Mr. Fillmore when I'm in town again or at some point, and I'd be happy to have a discussion with him," Porter told reporters.

Fillmore said he'd prefer government officials just tell him they don't plan to meet with him, rather than mislead him. He said that, along with the changes announced Tuesday for the Biodiversity Act, lead him to doubt the Rankin government's sincerity and commitment to the issue.

Fillmore has said he'll continue his hunger strike until he's either hospitalized or the government institutes a moratorium on clear cutting while the recommendations of the Lahey report on forestry practices are being enacted.