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

Comox Valley Regional District approves emergency funding to address community COVID-19 issues

The Comox Valley Regional District’s board of directors has approved $148,279 in… Continue reading

Courtenay pharmacy donates some sanitizer despite high demand

Pure Integrative Pharmacy provides some to Glacier Village, Comox Valley Transition Society

Vancouver Island man sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Green says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Successful removal of invasive plants in Comox park

The Friends of Mack Laing Nature Park (FMLNP) organized an ‘Invasive Pull… Continue reading

Craigdarroch residents find ways to help each other online and off

Neighbourhood of about 200 households lies between Royston and Union Bay

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

COVID-19 has been impacting Canadian economy since January

But full effects of pandemic won’t be known for months

Doctors trained abroad want to join front lines of COVID-19 fight in Canada

B.C. is looking to allow internationally trained doctors to work under the supervision of attending physicians

Fake test kits and other COVID online scams play on public anxiety: fraud centre

Vancouver has seen a spike in commercial property crimes, with offices and stores empty because of COVID-19

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Feds amplify stay-home message as cost of financial aid to Canadians mounts

Liberals have unveiled around $200B in direct financial aid and tax deferrals

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

World COVID-19 update: Six million U.S. jobless claims; Russia sends medical aid to U.S.

Comprehensive update with COVID-19 news from around the world

Most Read