MLA Donna Barnett’s weekly column addresses the ongoing protests in Victoria. (Nina Grossman/Victoria News Staff)

OPINION: All eyes on B.C. to deal with protest crisis: MLA Barnett

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett airs frustrations over last week’s protests in Victoria, across they country

The Speech from the Throne is usually an opportunity for the government-of-the-day to brag about its accomplishments and promote its vision for the coming year.

It usually involves the speech being delivered by the Lieutenant Governor, marching bands and 21-gun salutes.

But none of that happened last week because the Legislature was under lock-down due to anti-pipeline protests that were well orchestrated all across Canada. MLAs were denied access through the doors of the Legislature, including Green Party members.

Interim Green Party Leader, Adam Oslen, who grew up on the Tsartlip First Nation reserve on Vancouver Island, was also turned away from screaming protestors. Olsen later said in the Legislature: “I have great difficulty characterizing much of what I experienced … as peaceful.

Even Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin had to enter through a tunnel across the street from the Legislature.

It’s now obvious this is more than just a grassroots movement. Rotating demonstrations that shut down bridges, trains bridges and highways in B.C., were also executed across the country.

Read more: Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

This reveals a well-organized and well financed organization comprising social justice warriors, climate change activists and anti-capitalist movements.

Caught right in the middle of this is a now deeply divided Wet’suwet’en First Nation. All twenty elected band councils that live along the pathway of the natural gas pipeline – including the Wet’suwet’en – have signed agreements with Coastal Gaslink.

It will provide employment and millions of dollars in benefits to 13,000 aboriginal people, yet activists chose to ignore these facts and are siding with five of the thirteen hereditary chiefs who oppose the project.

Demonstrators care little about the deep – and possibly permanent – divisions erupting between friends and family belonging to the Wet’suwet’en.

The economic damage is also adding up across the country and all eyes are now on B.C. to deal with the crisis. People are asking why there is no leadership from Premier John Horgan, and why the government isn’t looking after the interests of all British Columbians?

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