A protester stands between Mohawk Warrior Society flags at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was tightlipped Monday about his plan to deal with anti-pipeline blockades on railways, bridges and highways as he emerged from an emergency meeting with cabinet ministers emphasizing his desire to find a quick and peaceful end to the crisis.

The closed-door meeting followed a week of growing pressure on the Liberal government to end the blockades, which started earlier this month in response to the planned construction of a $6.6-billion natural-gas pipeline in northern British Columbia called Coastal GasLink.

Speaking briefly to reporters after stepping out of the building across from Parliament Hill that houses the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau said he had reached out to a number of premiers and Indigenous leaders to discuss the standoff.

“I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many people and families across the country,” he said. “We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home, did not take any questions before being driven away by his RCMP security detail.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Justice Minister David Lametti and others who attended the meeting with Trudeau were similarly mum.

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

Monday’s emergency meeting was held as protesters continued to block rail lines as well as highways and bridges in different parts of the country. Those included shutting down for the first time the Thousand Islands Bridge border crossing near Kingston, Ont.

The Ontario Provincial Police indicated they didn’t plan on breaking up that protest, saying “the OPP has no role to play in the underlying issues of the event and is not in a position to resolve them.” Protesters lifted their blockade of the bridge in the afternoon.

Mounties in Manitoba also reported about eight to ten demonstrators at a CN Rail crossing on Highway 75 in southern Manitoba. The highway and rail line both run south to the U.S. border crossing at Emerson, Man.

RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne says police are stopping traffic for safety, but that vehicles are still able to pass in both directions. CN said train movement in the area had been stopped and that the company was “evaluating our legal options very closely.”

The RCMP said it had deployed a liaison team to the site to “establish a dialogue and maintain open and ongoing communication.”

Police have largely refrained from direct action against the blockades since the RCMP enforced an injunction outside Houston, B.C. earlier this month, where opponents of the Coastal GasLink project were preventing access to a work site for the pipeline.

While more than 20 people were arrested and the company is preparing to resume work, the RCMP raid sparked more protests and blockades across the country.

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s council. But Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs are opposed to the project and say the council does not have authority over the relevant land.

There are now growing concerns about the economic costs of the protests, which have shut down rail service across much of eastern Canada as well as parts of B.C. and the Prairies. That has led to calls for the federal government to take stronger action against the protesters.

Shortly after the emergency session in Ottawa, Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, sat down with her B.C. counterpart, Scott Fraser, where the two agreed to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss their concerns.

Yet while the federal government appears to be pinning at least part of its hopes on that meeting to resolve the crisis, no date has yet been set.

READ MORE: Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

—With files from Nicole Thompson in Toronto and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

Lee Berthiaume, 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

COVID-19: Vernon restaurant group forecasts 90% revenue loss for eateries

Pretium Restaurant Group stays positive as coronavirus pandemic affects businesses big and small

COVID-19: Vernon council to consider suspending metered parking

Special meeting of council to re-examine paid parking amid pandemic

Armstrong safe from space invasion

String of lights in night sky likely Musk’s Starlink satellite

More school tools unveiled for Vernon students

District provides home learning resources

COVID-19: Armstrong delivers essentials and smiles

Groceries, pharmacy, kids and pet items to be delivered daily

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

Valleydrive 2020 moves online due to COVID-19

The fundraiser supports the Central Okanagan Food Bank

Kelowna cafe offers free drinks to hospital workers, first responders

Third Space Cafe is offering free drinks to people on the frontlines battling COVID-19

Summerland beverage producers feel effects of COVID-19

Tasting rooms closed as pandemic continues

Kelowna Rotarian celebrates birthday with ‘drive-by’ parade party

Dick Dumond was surprised by the motorcade on his birthday over the weekend

B.C. worker advocate group calls for more sick days, protected medical leave

COVID-19 highlights need for changes to workers legislation: Retail Action Network

Some people still ignoring public health orders

‘We know who they are, and where they are, and if push comes to shove they can be fined,’ says mayor

Okanagan couple writing tribute song to health care workers

The Kelowna-based duo is asking for health care workers’ selfies to add to a music video

VIDEO: RCMP investigating double hot tub theft in Kelowna

The tubs were stolen from Aqua Friends Pool and Spa in the early morning of March 27

Most Read