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The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators


Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia:

The Conservatives have put a motion of no-confidence in the government on the House of Commons order paper.

Their House leader Candice Bergen says the Opposition has no faith in the Liberals’ ability to end the transportation blockades over a natural-gas pipeline in B.C.

The motion would require the support of all the opposition parties to bring down Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and force an election, though, and two of the leaders of those parties all but dismissed the idea.

Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois called it an “idle threat,” considering the Conservatives are without a permanent leader themselves, while

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the motion “ridiculous,” and said an election would plunge Canada into further crisis.

———

An emergency injunction will be heard in an Edmonton courtroom this afternoon to address a blockade that has been set up on a CN rail line on the western edge of the city.

A group called Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en says it intends to maintain the blockade until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervenes and the RCMP leaves Wet’suwet’en territory.

CN says in a statement that trains are stopped and they will be taking necessary legal actions.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says the rail company will be seeking an emergency injunction, which the government fully supports.

The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, which represents 16 First Nations across Alberta, says in a statement that it supports the hereditary chiefs.

———

Ontario’s Indigenous affairs minister says the provincial government is concerned that bringing rail blockades down isn’t one of Ottawa’s central objectives.

Greg Rickford says the federal government needs to bring forward a co-ordinated plan to remove the blockades, including one in eastern Ontario.

Rickford says Ontario wants a peaceful resolution, but he’s concerned the federal government hasn’t taken a leadership role with a view toward bringing the blockades down.

Premier Doug Ford is set to take part in a premiers’ call this afternoon to discuss the blockades that have sprung up in opposition to a planned natural-gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia.

———

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calls the extended protests of Canada’s rail lines “anarchy,” and he says he expects police to enforce court orders.

The CN line on the outskirts of Edmonton is being blocked by protesters in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline running through their B.C. territory.

Kenney says the illegal protests are shutting down large parts of the Canadian economy and putting public health and safety in danger.

The premier says reconciliation doesn’t mean allowing a couple of people to shut down the national economy, it means listening with respect and ensuring that Indigenous people can benefit from responsible development.

———

An Indigenous leader in Quebec is backing away from comments he made yesterday urging rail blockaders to lift their protests — at least temporarily.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon now says he should not have made those statements and people at the blockades should decide how to proceed.

A group of protesters angered by Simon’s comments began blocking access to Kanesatake band council offices late Tuesday but Simon says it’s hoped the offices can be reopened later today.

Rail, road and bridge blockades have been set up in several areas of the country over the last two weeks in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories in northwestern B.C.

———

Protesters calling themselves “Cuzzins” for Wet’suwet’en have set up a blockade of Canadian National rail tracks on the western outskirts of Edmonton.

The group posted photos on social media this morning showing the line blocked with wooden crates and placards reading “No Consent” and “No Pipelines on Stolen Land.”

CN says in a statement that CN police are responding and the company will be “taking the necessary legal actions.”

Alberta’s Justice Minister issued a response on Twitter, calling the blockade “an offence and will not be tolerated,” and adding that the province will not be “economic hostages to law-breaking extremists.”

———

Via Rail says it is temporarily laying off 1,000 employees due to blockades that continue to stop service on CN tracks in Eastern Canada.

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes for about two weeks in the wake of protests that have disrupted rail service across the country.

Via says it commends ongoing dialogue efforts between government and demonstrators at rail blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.

Via says it is proceeding with temporary suspensions of the unionized employees “with sincere regret.”

The company, which has resumed service in some parts of Ontario, has cancelled more than 530 trains since blockades began on Feb. 6.

———

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief says the chiefs won’t meet with the federal government over their opposition to a natural gas pipeline until both the RCMP and company leave their traditional territory.

Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, says the chiefs have communicated their terms to Carolyn Bennett, the minister responsible for Crown-Indigenous relations.

Bennett has sought to meet with the chiefs as the federal government faces mounting pressure to take action against protesters and demonstrators whose blockades have halted roads and rail lines.

Na’moks says four clan chiefs who are the highest leaders under the First Nation’s traditional form of governance are travelling to Mohawk territory today to thank members of that First Nation for their solidarity.

But he also says that if the chief’s conditions are met, any meeting with the federal government would have to take place on the Wet’suwet’en territory, which means it wouldn’t likely occur until next week at the earliest.

Na’moks says he’s not concerned that the chiefs might miss a window of opportunity for dialogue with the federal government.

———

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press



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