A protester stands beside smoke at the closed train tracks in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., on Thursday Feb. 20, 2020, as they protest in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says after two weeks, barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes have to come down.

He said injunctions to clear tracks must be obeyed and the law must be upheld, and there’s no point making the same overtures to Indigenous leaders if they aren’t accepted.

“We are waiting for Indigenous leadership to show that it understands,” he said in an Ottawa news conference. “The onus is on them.”

The blockades, particularly one on a critical east-west rail line in Ontario, are responses by Indigenous people and supporters to a move by the RCMP to clear protesters who had been blocking access to a worksite for a major natural gas pipeline in B.C. Hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation oppose the work on their traditional territory, despite support from elected band councils along the pipeline route.

“Let us be clear: all Canadians are paying the price. Some people can’t get to work, others have lost their jobs,” Trudeau said. ”Essential goods … cannot get where they need to go.”

The situation “is unacceptable and untenable,” he said.

Trudeau distinguished between protests over deep, long-standing, historic injustices and opposition to current policy decisions. One deserves more deference and patience than the other, he said.

He is contending with pressure from several premiers after they had a collective telephone call with him Thursday evening.

Alberta’s Jason Kenney, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister said he made it clear on the conference call that the blockades are having devastating impacts and giving the impression that Canada can’t operate as a modern democratic country.

He said the prime minister told the premiers that the government’s “patience is wearing thin” and that he believes that action is required “within hours and not days.”

Meanwhile, a group of hereditary leaders from the Wet’suwet’en Nation in B.C. is spending the day with Mohawk supporters in Ontario.

The hereditary chiefs are thanking the Mohawks for supporting them by blocking that rail line between Toronto and Montreal.

They have scheduled their own news conference at the blockade near Belleville, Ont., this afternoon.

The hereditary Wet’suwet’en leaders say they’re willing to talk with representatives of the Crown, but only after the RCMP and Coastal GasLink workers have left their traditional lands.

On Thursday, the RCMP in B.C. sent a letter to the traditional leaders, telling them the force intends to move its officers out of the territory, as long as the chiefs commit to allowing pipeline workers access to the work site.

Trudeau has been under increasing pressure to end the blockades, with Conservatives calling for the government to use force, while the Liberal government insists peaceful negotiations are the only way to a lasting solution.

B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged Friday that it’s a “challenge” to have a dialogue with chiefs who have refused to meet with government ministers unless the RCMP and Coastal GasLink withdraw entirely.

But he said others from the community have begun to speak out, including the matriarchs who have historically been the keepers of the traditional practices of the Wet’suwet’en people.

Horgan said he expects Na’moks, a hereditary chief who also goes by John Ridsdale, will be hearing from others about his refusal to meet with the province, because that’s “not how you have respectful dialogue with your neighbours.”

He said he believes the vast majority of northern B.C. residents and Wet’suwet’en people want to find a way forward and his government remains “at the ready” to help reach that outcome.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Evacuation alert issued for one property 20 km north of Williams Lake

The alert was issued by the CRD late Thursday afternoon

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

SMART55: Quesnel Lake offers a lifetime of making memories

The Gerich family moved around B.C. for work but always returned to Quesnel Lake

RCMP responded to reports of suicidal male near Lac la Hache

Subject treated and released into care of family

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read