Anti-pipeline protestors occupy Liberal MP’s Toronto office
Anti-pipeline protestors have taken over the office of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett in downtown Toronto. A large group of Climate Justice Toronto and Extinction Rebellion protestors have joined them.
An investigation is underway by the RCMP after a truck driver decided not to stop as he came to a group of protestors. The truck allegedly hit one of the protestors who was blocking highway 75 on Monday, close to Morris, Manitoba according to Global News.
One lane was temporarily being blocked by the protestors on the highway and they were stopping semi-trailers and giving out information on treaty rights.
Footage shows a truck briefly coming to a stop and attempting to drive around the protestors blocking his way. More protesters then came from the side of the road and ran in front of the truck to stop it from passing. The driver made a turn back to the left to avoid hitting them.
A protester involved in the incident named Mike Hawkins claimed that he was injured in the incident.
“He decided just to run the blockade and try to run us over there because he was running straight for us and I stuck my hand out and my front arm, my hand caught the fender there and jarred my elbow and my shoulder there and that hurt,” said Hawkins.
The driver was later stopped by police who looked over his information before allowing him to carry on.
A Manitoba RCMP spokesperson noted that no information on potential charges will be released until after the investigation is complete.
The protest was part of the movement that has spread across the country involving many protesters who are against the construction of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. The pipeline travels from the Dawson Creek area in BC to Kitimat, BC.
Agreements have been signed with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the route though some hereditary chiefs who claim the rights to the land are against the project.
A recent poll has suggested that almost two out of three Canadians are against the Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades that are impeding railways and traffic. The poll also suggests that about three of four Canadian respondents believe that the federal government should step up and address the issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada, according to an Ipsos poll commissioned by Global News.
Ipsos published a poll on Wednesday regarding the protests against the natural gas pipeline that is meant to be built in Northern British Columbia.
According to the survey, 61 percent of people don’t agree that the protesters involved in the blockades are carrying out legitimate or justified protests. The results show that 39 percent of respondents agree that they are justified and legitimate protests.
Darrell Bricker, the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs said, “It’s the first poll that we’ve ever done on this issue. The first takeaway is that Canadians are not pleased to see ports and railways blocked.”
“In fact, they so don’t agree with it that almost half of Canadians—actually better than half, 53 percent—actually think the police should move in and do something about it.”
“What we also see in the polling is that… [75 per cent] of the people we interviewed are saying that something needs to be done about the plight of the Aboriginal community and that the government hasn’t performed particularly well on this,” said Bricker.
Coastal GasLink—the company attempting to build the pipeline—has signed agreements with all 20 First Nations elected councils on the pipeline route. There are however, some hereditary chiefs disagree with the action and oppose the $6.6-billion project all together.
As a result of the ongoing blockades, CN Rail has been forced to shut down its eastern Canada operations.
Prime Minister Trudeau had to cancel his out of country tour in order to return to Canada and deal with the ongoing tensions. The House of Commons held an emergency debate on Tuesday.
When asked if they believe that indigenous people have been properly consulted by the government, 56 percent of respondents said yes while 44 percent disagreed.
“They are trying to reconcile two things in their minds: one of them is a legitimate concern that Canadians have about the situation and the plight of Aboriginal people in this country—it’s quite clear that there’s a fairly deep feeling that something needs to be done on that… but on the other hand, even though they feel that this is an important thing that needs to be dealt with, they don’t feel that protesting by shutting down rail lines and shutting down ports is the correct response,” said Bricker.
Bricker added that there are differing views among Canada’s different regions but Alberta and BC are aligned on certain issues.
“This is one of the only issues I’ve seen in which British Columbia and Alberta actually align—when natural resources are concerned,” said Bricker, who added that the poll results show “younger Canadians are more aligned with the Aboriginal community.”
In Alberta, 69 percent of respondents support police intervention while in BC, 68 percent support it. Quebec has the highest opposition to police intervention with 38 per cent and Ontario comes after with 29 percent.
Bricker said that in his polling experience “the longer that things go on like this, the more the pressure builds on the government.”
“Public order is one of those things that is really regarded as a primary responsibility for the government and to the extent that… [the public] perceives that things are out of control, the worse it gets for the government.”
As the #ShutDownCanada protests rage on into the 12th day with no end in sight, with border crossings being the latest major infrastructure spots targeted on Monday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only late Sunday finally taking the crisis seriously, here’s a look at some of the most important facts regarding the illegal protests.
1. What is the pipeline project?
The Coastal GasLink pipeline project is a 670 km pipeline that is meant to carry natural gas across the northern section of British Columbia. The project is estimated to cost $6.6 billion. The pipeline path starts in the Dawson Creek area close to the border of BC and travels west to Kitimat, B.C.
2. Prolonged and growing illegal protests
On Dec. 31, the BC The Supreme Court granted an expansion injunction to Coastal GasLink against members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who were obstructing access to construction.
Blockades began on Feb. 6 when the RCMP started to enforce the injunction and protestors were asked to leave the camp. The protestors were blocking a service road close to Houston, BC Tensions have been escalating since the incident and #ShutDownCanada blockades started springing up across the country.
The protests are still going strong, with cargo and passenger trains shut down across the country and border crossings blocked today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled a trip to Barbados last minute Sunday and had a meeting with a group of cabinet ministers in Ottawa on the subject Monday. Trudeau said his government is focusing “on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully.”
3. Arrested protesters
Many of the protests have illegally blocked major parts of Canada’s infrastructure with impunity, but others have ended up in cuffs.
On Monday, Feb. 10, 57 protestors were arrested for the Metro Vancouver port blockade.
On Jan. 7, there were 14 arrests made at a protest camp in Northern BC.
There were 12 protestors arrested in the office of the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
On Feb. 8, there were 11 people arrested at the Port of Vancouver.
Another 6 arrests occurred earlier in the month at a blockade in Northern BC.
Despite these arrests, the majority of the anti-pipeline activists have gotten away with breaking the law, with one counter protestor trying to remove a blockade getting arrested instead of the people illegally blocking a highway.
4. Support vs. opposition for the pipeline
The Angus Reid Institute created a poll that sampled 1,508 people and asked them about their opinions on the pipeline. The poll found that 51 percent of Canadians support the pipeline while 36 percent are against it. Less than half of Canadians are for the Wet’suwet’en solidarity protestors with 39 percent supporting them.
Most people feel that further consultation with the hereditary chiefs is needed to discuss the pipeline properly.
The poll was taken from Feb. 10-12.
5. Majority of First Nations involved want the pipeline
There are 13 hereditary chief positions, but not all of them are currently filled. These chiefs oversee the Wet’suwet’en Nations five clans.
All 20 of the elected First Nations councils who are located along the path of the pipeline have signed agreements with Coastal GasLink. These councils represent approximately 2,800 people.
Five Hereditary Chiefs have claimed that the project does not have any authority to carry on without their consent.
6. Why isn’t law enforcement breaking up blockades and arresting more people?
Law enforcement may be hesitant to break up blockades because the protests going on resemble that of the Oka Crisis which began on July 11, 1990 and lasted until September 26, 1990, spanning 78 days. The Oka Crisis is an ugly chapter in Canadian history that the government does not want to repeat.
The Oka Crisis involved a standoff between the Canadian military and the Mohawks. The standoff was over the expansion of a golf course onto Native land and eventually resulted in one fatality.
TVO talked to Kahente Horn-Miller who remembers the crisis. She said, “Oka is still in our memory. There are still a lot of people who are alive who were a part of that. That was only 30 years ago. And it was a moment of awakening for a lot of us, because my generation were teenagers, right? So it’s not easy to forget,”
The crisis finished after the expansion was cancelled on Sept. 26, 1990.
7. Shortage of goods due to CN Rail trains blocked for over a week
Goods that travel by rail across the country have been at a standstill along with the trains. This is leading to shortages of groceries, propane, drinking water, baby formula and personal hygiene products.
8. CN Rail lays off employees
CN rail announced Monday it has had to send out layoff notices to employees in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia due to the prolonged shut down of their operations. Other employers that have a supply chain that relies on Canada’s railway system will also inevitably be affected by lay offs if the protests continue.
9. Via Rail says nearly 100,000 passengers trips cancelled
Via Rail announced on Saturday that over 400 trains had been cancelled and over 83,000 passengers were unable to take the train to travel across Canada in the span of the last week and a half. As trains are still not moving, that number continues to rise and would undoubtedly raise the price of other modes of transportation such as air travel.
10. Difference between hereditary Chiefs and elected chiefs
Hereditary chiefs are chiefs who have their titles passed down from generation to generation. These titles predate colonization. The chiefs are representatives of the separate houses that together make up the First Nations. Hereditary chiefs are in charge of traditional land management.
Elected band councils differ from the hereditary chiefs because they are elected community members. These councils came in 1876 after the Indian Act was established. The act created a guideline for how the Canadian government interacts with Indigenous people.
Anti-pipeline protestors took to the streets in both downtown Toronto and Ottawa this afternoon, bringing traffic to a halt. In Toronto, the major artery of Bloor Street was blocked. While in Ottawa, protestors stopped traffic in Byward Market.
Protests and blockades opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline have entered their 12th day, bringing traffic and the nation’s economy to a standstill.
The scene in Toronto is intense, with thousands marching.
“Obviously we’re a country of the rule of law and we need to make sure that those laws are followed,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said about the protests on Monday. “We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully.”
Nationwide protests that claim to be in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en have exploded after RCMP arrested pipeline protestors on Wet’suwet’en territory. Protests have already effectively shut down VIA Rail and CN Rail and at least two US border crossings.
The Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council supports the pipeline project.