Scheer says pipeline protests ‘illegal,’ tells Trudeau to order RCMP enforcement

Scheer says pipeline protests ‘illegal,’ tells Trudeau to order RCMP enforcement

OTTAWA — It is time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to order the RCMP to end the “illegal” blockades of vital rail links, says Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Scheer says Trudeau should order Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to use his authority under the RCMP Act to put an end to protests by Indigenous Peoples at the centre of the dispute over a British Columbia pipeline project.

He says they are harming the Canadian economy and disrupting the livelihoods of farmers and small-business owners.

“These blockades are illegal,” Scheer Friday said in Ottawa. “So far, the prime minister has refused to come out and call them that, himself.”

Earlier Friday, Trudeau said while travelling in Germany that there are no easy answers to the dispute.

In his most extensive public comments since anti-pipeline protests began affecting freight and passenger rail traffic across Canada last week, Trudeau said the path forward is “fraught with challenges and obstacles to overcome.”

“You need to know we have failed our Indigenous peoples over generations, over centuries. And there is no quick fix to it,” Trudeau said, adding that all parties must move towards reconciliation.

“We also are, obviously, a country of laws. And making sure that those laws are enforced, even as there is, of course, freedom to demonstrate free and to protest,” he said.

“Getting that balance right and wrapping it up in the path forward … is really important.”

But Scheer said the RCMP needs to respond to restore order and uphold the law — and the government needs to demand that. He said the pipeline project has support among many elected band councils from First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en.

If the law isn’t enforced, Scheer said the Trudeau government will be setting a “dangerous precedent that a small few can have a devastating impact on the lives of countless Canadians.”

“For many of these anti-energy activists, this is just a warm-up act” to block other energy projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and the Teck Frontier oilsands mine in northeastern Alberta, he said.

“We cannot allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs,” said Scheer.

Tensions were expected to heat up on Friday with the added threat of activists planning to shut down government offices in British Columbia’s capital.

Protests continue as political leaders look to negotiate solutions, while business leaders, opposition politicians and ordinary people call for immediate action to end the disruptions, which have already seen more than 80 arrests.

Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan spoke Thursday about the need to work together to resolve the pipeline tensions that have resulted in solidarity blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and B.C.

Indigenous leaders in B.C.’s northwest have invited federal and provincial politicians to meetings to find solutions, and said they would ensure a blockade of a Canadian National Railway track near New Hazelton, B.C., would come down during talks.

CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis confirmed Friday morning the New Hazelton blockade had been lifted.

The railway said Thursday it was starting a progressive shutdown in the East, while Via Rail cancelled all service on CN tracks in Canada.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest are among the most cherished of rights, but added he is “deeply concerned” about the disruption of rail services.

There is a risk of seeing the disruptions merely as interference with the operations of profit-making companies, but they affect all Canadians, he told a news conference Friday in Toronto.

“But it is about people’s jobs and livelihoods and about the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil and chemicals for water treatment, agricultural products for export and so many other products,” he said.

Garneau, who was meeting his provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as representatives of national Indigenous organizations, stressed that he hopes there will be peaceful resolutions to the blockade disputes.

The blockades began last week after RCMP enforced an injunction against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada export project.

Horgan has rejected calls from the Opposition Liberals to seek immediate injunctions to end the blockades and protests in B.C.

“We can’t just use force,” he said in the legislature. “It needs to be dealt with by co-operation, by consultation, by discussion so that we can all move forward.”

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan was taking an “entirely passive approach in the face of implacable protesters who are intent on shutting down constituency services, shutting down the universities, shutting down our transportation arteries.”

“The issues going on right now, these days, in Canada are pitting Indigenous Peoples and concerns about the environment against economic development,” Trudeau said.

“But, of course, there are lots of Indigenous Peoples who want economic development. They just need to want to see this being done in the right way, and in a way that is respectful and partnership.”

Groups including Grain Growers of Canada, Forest Products Association of Canada and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have said rail delays caused by the blockades are hurting their members and the economy.

Teamsters Canada, the country’s largest union in the transportation sector, called on the federal government to intervene.

The union warned the impasse could put up to 6,000 employees at CN and other rail companies out of work.

Protesters have threatened to block government buildings in Victoria on Friday, but late Thursday a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an injunction against further blockades at the legislature.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route.

However, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area and say band councils only have authority over reserve lands.

More than two dozen people have been arrested in the pipeline construction area near Houston, B.C., by RCMP enforcing an injunction order. Vancouver Police arrested more than 50 people this week enforcing an injunction order against people blocking access to Vancouver area ports.

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

 

Scheer says pipeline protests ‘illegal,’ tells Trudeau to order RCMP enforcement

Just Posted

A recent investigation by the RCMP Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit led to the arrests of 24 people. (Contributed photo)
24 people arrested following RCMP investigation in central Alberta

Twenty-four people are facing a combined 235 charges following an investigation by… Continue reading

Alberta’s Chief Medicial Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragice milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

Photo from Town of Sylvan Lake Facebook page
Sylvan Lake communities band together on development plan

Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan expected to be approved next spring

Tribe restaurant owner Paul Harris, left, consults with manager Brandon Bouchard about how to proceed under pandemic rules that make it hard for eateries to be profitable. (Contributed photo).
New pandemic rules deemed workable for Red Deer retailers

Stricter COVID-19 reduction measures introduced in lead-up to Christmas

Quentin Lee Strawberry
Man accused in 2019 Red Deer murder will stay behind bars

Quentin Strawberry going to trial next year on second-degree murder charge

RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu speaks about a seizure of illegal drugs, cash and a firearm during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The B.C. Coroners Service says its latest data on illicit drug toxicity deaths show five people are dying every day in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Five people dying every day from toxic illicit drugs in B.C.: Coroner

Five people dying every day from toxic illicit drugs in B.C.: Coroner

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Heidi Illingworth, federal ombudsman for victims of crime, takes part in an interview at her office in Ottawa on January 10, 2019. Canada's watchdog for crime victims is calling on Parliament to overhaul the victims' bill of rights, saying the five-year-old legislation has fallen "far short" of delivering on its promise. Federal ombudsman Heidi Illingworth says in a report that rules meant to amplify victims' voices in the justice system have failed to make them heard following "sporadic" implementation of a regime that needs more teeth, clarity and public awareness. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal watchdog says victims-rights regime needs overhaul after falling ‘far short’

Federal watchdog says victims-rights regime needs overhaul after falling ‘far short’

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. His department would likely take the lead in creating a federally funded child-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Around 1,300 national exemptions to COVID-19 border restrictions given out: officials

Around 1,300 national exemptions to COVID-19 border restrictions given out: officials

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Blanchet is blasting the prime minister's response to the pandemic, saying Justin Trudeau's pledge that vaccines will start to arrive in the coming months is 'unacceptable.' THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Covid-19 Rapid Test Device kits at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Tam urges collective effort, Ontarians told to celebrate holidays at home

Tam urges collective effort, Ontarians told to celebrate holidays at home

Most Read