The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/02/2020 (1137 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural-gas pipeline project in British Columbia:
Victoria police said four people reported assaults during protests at the B.C. legislature on Tuesday.
In a statement today, police said their investigations are ongoing.
Protesters blocked entrances to the legislature in advance of the provincial government’s throne speech.
Police say three people received non-life-threatening injuries.
They say a fourth person was not injured but equipment that was being carried was reported to have been damaged.
Via Rail has extended the cancellation of some services in Ontario and Quebec until at least the end of the day on Friday because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.
The passenger rail service says it is cancelling all departures on its routes running between Montreal and Toronto, and Toronto and Ottawa.
Via had previously cancelled service on those routes until the end of the day on Thursday.
The Manitoba government is planning to seek a court injunction to end a blockade at a rail line west of Winnipeg.
Premier Brian Pallister says the Justice Department will seek to obtain an injunction and have it enforced within a few days.
Pallister says he respects the rights of protesters, but the laws need to be applied and there cannot be what he calls “two-tier justice.”
In the middle of Ottawa’s afternoon rush hour, about 100 protesters briefly blocked a downtown intersection.
Demonstrating against the pipeline and climate change, marchers paused at Elgin and Wellington streets on the edge of Parliament Hill.
Forming a large circle, participants held up cars and city buses for speeches and cheers against the LNG project.
A small encampment on the plaza of the National War Memorial boasted banners reading “ACT NOW” and “TELL THE TRUTH.”
In all, the blockade lasted just a few minutes before the marchers moved away.
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says the federal government must step in to resolve tensions over the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
Perry Bellegarde says the federal government has a duty to find a way to solve the underlying primary issue: a conflict between the hereditary leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who oppose the pipeline and the elected chiefs who support it.
He said the conflict is fueled by the federal government’s failure to adequately address questions of who holds jurisdiction over ancestral lands outside reserves.
Protests, including rail blockades, have erupted nationally since the RCMP began last week to enforce a court injunction barring protesters from the pipeline site to allow for construction.
The federal Liberals have said the matter is a provincial one, and while people have the right to protest, the RCMP is upholding the rule of law.
But Bellegarde says in addition to the civil and common law the RCMP is sworn to uphold, there exist generations of Indigenous laws that must be respected as well.
Two federal cabinet ministers are weighing in on the protests over the pipeline.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan says rail transportation is acutely important to passengers and natural resources in Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau is “seized” with the issue as pipeline protests tie up the network.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the B.C. government has worked hard to mediate the pipeline dispute and he expects it to continue to try to achieve a greater degree of consensus.
Asked how he could assure industry that natural resource projects can proceed in Canada, O’Regan says there will always be differing opinions, but with an economy that relies heavily on natural resources and natural resource development, “there’s always going to be that friction. There will always be that tension.”
O’Regan says he couldn’t speculate on whether the protests are a foreshadowing of what’s to come when construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline ramps up in B.C.
B.C. Premier John Horgan says anti-pipeline demonstrators who prevented people from entering the legislature for his government’s throne speech on Tuesday need to respect the rights of others.
“Peaceful demonstration is fundamental to our success as a democracy,” he told a news conference today. “But to have a group of people say to others you are illegitimate, you are not allowed in here, you are somehow a sellout to the values of Canadians is just plain wrong, and I want to underline that.”
Horgan said he cancelled a news conference on Tuesday because he wanted to take 24 hours to reflect on what happened.
Asked what the province can do as the economy is affected by the protests, he said other people have to be allowed “to go about their business in a free and fair way.”
Mohawk community members at a railway blockade south of Montreal say they’ll remain there as long as the RCMP is present on Wet’suwet’en territory in northwestern British Columbia.
About a dozen people were at the blockade in Kahnawake today that has been blocking commuter train service along a line from Candiac, Que., since Monday.
The protest, which features Mohawk flags, signs of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and a pile of snow built up on the tracks, has forced passengers on the line to use shuttle buses instead.
One of the Mohawks taking part notes people have still been able to get to work.
Tekarontake (teh-gah-ROON’-tah-gay) says he hopes the protest ends today, but Canada will have to “come to its senses” for that to happen.
Two hereditary chiefs of the British Columbia First Nation at the heart of a dispute over the construction of a natural gas pipeline are launching a constitutional challenge.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chief Lho’imggin, who also uses the name Alphonse Gagnon, and Smogilhgim, also known as Warner Naziel, say they want the Federal Court to declare Canada has a constitutional duty to meet international greenhouse gas emission targets.
If successful, Gagnon and Naziel believe the legal action could lead to cancellation of existing approvals for projects such as the $40-billion LNG Canada development, which depends on construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline across traditional Wet’suwet’en territories in northwestern B.C.
Wet’suwet’en supporters are also in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver today challenging an injunction that ended a multi-day blockade at entrances to two ports.
The blockade and numerous other protests across B.C., Ontario and Quebec, began after RCMP enforced an injunction and arrested 28 people for allegedly violating an exclusion zone near the Coastal GasLink construction site.
About 75 protesters took to the streets in Ottawa as they declared the federal government’s efforts to reconcile with Indigenous residents “dead.”
Some of the demonstrators had been occupying the justice minister’s office since Monday, but blocked off an intersection near the Supreme Court this morning and quickly caused a major traffic jam.
They say the federal government has killed any efforts at reconciliation by failing to intervene in the development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Traffic quickly backed up for blocks, and one driver confronted the group saying he was just trying to get to work.
The protesters say they plan to reconvene at the Supreme Court this afternoon.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to do more to help resolve the anti-pipeline protests that are disrupting rail service across the country.
Legault says he’s in discussions with Grand Chief Joseph Norton of Kahnawake to peacefully end a railway blockade on that Indigenous territory south of Montreal.
The premier says rail transportation falls under federal jurisdiction, while relations with Indigenous communities are a shared responsibility.
Legault says he wants to resolve the situation, which has disrupted commuter rail service since Monday, without the use of force.
The Kahnawake Mohawks protesting near the rail line say they are acting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in B.C. opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Demonstrators who blocked a key intersection in Vancouver for more than 12 hours have left the area as of this morning.
The protesters blockaded the intersection near city hall on Tuesday afternoon, severing a key east-west artery as well as a six-lane route connecting to the busy Cambie Bridge in and out of the downtown core.
They camped in the intersection overnight under the eye of police, but left on time for traffic to start flowing again by about 6 a.m.
Many of the protesters are expected to join another rally in the downtown core later in the day.
Victoria police say they are now investigating reports of attacks on some of those who entered the British Columbia legislature during a protest on Tuesday.
A statement posted on the Victoria police website says officers are aware of reports in traditional and social media of people being assaulted and injured, and they are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Indigenous supporters removed their encampment from the legislature steps late Tuesday after delaying but not preventing the start of the new session and delivery of the government’s throne speech.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is weighing in on the protests over a B.C. pipeline project that have disrupted rail traffic across the country.
Speaking in Senegal today, he says the federal government respects the right to peaceful protest but the rule of law must also be respected.
Protesters have erected blockades across several rail lines in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C.
The blockades followed the RCMP enforcing a court injunction last week against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters who have been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied-natural-gas export project.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2020.