August 12, 2020

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'They have a voice, doesn't give them a veto,' Pallister on blockades

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Premier Brian Pallister has rejected calls for more dialogue with protesters.</p>


Premier Brian Pallister has rejected calls for more dialogue with protesters.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister railed Wednesday against blockades, and rejected calls for more dialogue with protesters.

"You have the right to be heard — you don't have the right to keep protesting when you don't get your way," Pallister said before a conference call with fellow Canadian premiers.

The group discussed the impact ongoing rail and road blockades are having on their respective jurisdictions and economies, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, chairman of the Council of the Federation, said in a brief statement.

"The premiers are calling for a meeting with the prime minister (Thursday) via teleconference to discuss paths to a peaceful resolution and an end to the illegal blockades," Moe said.

Earlier, Pallister talked to reporters about large-scale projects being met with opposition — such as those driving protests across Canada in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are seeking to block construction of a $6.6-billion natural-gas pipeline in B.C.

"We have processes in this country that are onerous for getting projects evaluated — that create confusion and frustration for a lot of people," said Pallister. "Some people need to be told that, just because they have a voice, doesn't give them a veto. I'd like the federal government to just simply say that."

On Tuesday, demonstrators gathered in front of the legislature in downtown Winnipeg to show support for the Wet'suwet'en — one of several events in Manitoba in recent weeks that have held up rail and road traffic.

"There are a lot of people who have quite legitimate concerns about how projects impact on them, their families, the natural environment," and there's a process to deal with those, Pallister said Wednesday.

Accommodations are made and funding is available to ensure people can do research and meaningfully participate, he said. "It's onerous, it's time-consuming, and — to a great degree — it's evolved over the years to accommodate Indigenous needs and interests, and that's quite legitimate, quite defensible.

"I'd like the federal government to make the case that it's legitimate as a process and that it's defensible, rather than simply offer the opportunity for further dialogue all the time," the Manitoba premier said.

If not, "We keep lobbying, we keep protesting, we'll end up with a different system that's even more onerous, and even more difficult and even more costly, and then we won't ever be able to build anything ever again in this country," he said.

NDP environment and climate change critic Lisa Naylor (Wolseley) said instead of complaining about the protesters and the level of dialogue, Pallister should try listening.

"What I would like to see is a stronger sense of leadership," the NDP MLA told reporters Wednesday.

"We want to see the economy keep moving, but we also want protesters' voices to be heard and respected — to have a leader who's willing to listen to all of those voices and bring those voices together to have some kind of healthy resolution," said Naylor.

She urged Pallister to meet with a protester and have a conversation "where at least part of it is him listening... A big part of leadership is also listening, and I think that's what we're seeing lacking here."

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

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