Deputy PM blocked from entering Halifax City Hall by anti-pipeline protestors
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland was blocked at both doors from entering Halifax city hall by anti-pipeline protestors.
Videos posted on Twitter by protestor Sakura Saunders were posted onto the platform in the early afternoon, showing the city hall building “occupied in solidarity with #Wetsuweten struggle.”
This isn’t the first occupation that Freeland has faced from protestors of this same cause. Last month, climate activists disrupted the office of the deputy prime minister in an attempt to pressure the Liberal government into halting a controversial pipeline project that is set to go through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory.
A total of 19 activists from Climate Justice Toronto occupied Freeland’s constituency office with signs that read “No violence against Indigenous people” and “No trespassing on Wet’suwet’en land.”
“Chrystia Freeland did not answer at all,” said Dafna Cohen, a protestor, to CTVNews.ca. “We really hope that she got the message clear, but we will continue and continue to be in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.”
The blockade is the latest of a number of blockades by anti-pipeline protestors. Just yesterday, video emerged from the B.C. legislature of BC press gallery secretary and Global News journalist Richard Zussman being denied entry from the building by anti-pipeline activists.
They also blocked British Columbian politicians from entering the building.
The video was posted from the province late Tuesday morning, eventually showing video of politicians entering the building with the help of security personnel.
Protestors have recently left Canada in a full halt, as Via Rail trains and cargo trains were stopped by blockades throughout Ontario. Initially.
Additionally, anti-pipeline protestors took over the offices of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, in downtown Toronto on Monday.
On Wednesday, Via Rail announced that interrupted train services would resume in roughly 36 hours, once solidarity blockades were removed.
On Wednesday, Marie-Anna Murat, a spokesperson for the company said, “Via Rail is working with the infrastructure owner on the specifics of the resumption of service which is estimated to take at least 36 hours from the time the line is cleared.”
The company announced on Tuesday that all services from Via Rail will be cancelled from Toronto-Ottawa and Toronto-Montreal until Thursday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government gave nearly $10,000 of taxpayer money in 2019 to an organization that has funded and organized anti-pipeline movements.
Environment Canada, which was headed by Liberal minister Catherine McKenna at the time, made two separate payments to Tides Canada—coming to a total of $9,761.
These two payments were made in January and October of 2019.
Although it is unclear how Tides Canada chose to allocate this money, the organization has a noted history of financing anti-oil campaigns in Alberta.
Tides Canada, for instance, funded the Tsleil-Wauteuth First Nation so that they could “stop and oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”
Tides Canada has also funded and organized a campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest, which led to Trudeau’s decision to kill the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
In January, data revealed that Alberta’s economic activity was at its lowest since the 2015-16 recession. As well as this, the province lost more than 18,000 jobs in January, despite the rest of the country adding over 34,000.
Much of Alberta’s economic troubles derive from the federal government’s inanition and inaction in building pipelines. As a result of this, a deep discontent has grown amongst Albertans towards Ottawa—culminating in both a growing separatist movement (Wexit) and the new “Buffalo Declaration“.
CN Rail has acquired an injunction to remove a blockade on the rails of Montreal’s South Shore according to CBC News.
A statement released by the company says, “We’ve obtained the injunction and are hoping for a swift resolution of this incident so that passenger commuter rail service can resume.”
On Thursday, François Legault, the Premier of Quebec said, “Once the injunction is granted, we will dismantle the blockade.”
The injunction was filed by CN Rail on Wednesday because a blockade was formed on the Mont-Saint-Hilaire train line close to Saint-Lambert station.
According to Legault, the Longueuil police were responsible for removing the blockade and would apply force if they had to.
The story in BC is very different with the RCMP offering to remove themselves from the Wet’suwet’en territory.
Service on the Mont-Saint-Hilaire train line was cancelled by transit operator, Exo, who said it was not possible “due to the shortage of buses and drivers in the metropolitan area.”
This train is the second to encounter difficulties in the Montreal area. In Kahnawake, a blockade caused Exo to discontinue travel on the Candiac line. The travel has been discontinued since February 10.
According to Legault, the Quebec government is not going to dismantle that blockade because it is located on Mohawk territory.
A protestor named Pierre-Oliver Parent noted that he felt he should be at the blockade to condemn the government’s actions.
“I’m a white settler, I’m a construction worker,” said Parent. “It’s a huge issue … it’s not the Canada that I want to live in.”
On Thursday, one man decided to attempt to take down the Saint-Lambert blockade on his own while swearing and yelling at the protestors. The man tore a cord that was supporting the banners and said that the protestors didn’t have the right to be blocking trains.
Marie-Therese Belanger, who lives close to the blockade said that she supports what the protestors are doing. She went to the blockade to show her support.
“Someone has to stand up and talk, and if it doesn’t work, this is what you have to do,” said Belanger. “I hope they’ll win.”
Parent said he hopes that the blockades prove to the government that “a large solidarity” is shared with the Wet’suwet’en people.
“We see that people are being touched by the injustice … and injustice to one is an injustice to all,” said Parent.
“All our brothers from each nation, we need to stand together.” he said
The blockades continue throughout Canada with protestors carrying signs that say things like “Stand with Wet’suwet’en” and “Wet’suwet’en Strong”.
Most of them are showing their support for the hereditary chiefs who disagree with the construction of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline through their land in northern BC, according to CBC News.
It is now known that many Wet’suwet’en people support the pipeline and are angered by the ongoing protests. Some people see the natural gas pipeline as a chance to build their community with the new jobs it will bring.
Though there is still some division in the community, the 20 elected First Nations councils have signed agreements and shown their support for the project.
The national protests began when some of the hereditary chiefs showed their opposition to the project and claimed that it violated their rights.
On Wednesday, the community of Houston held an event at a movie theatre and brought out about 200 people from their community of 2,000, for three hours. Houston is located right on the path of the pipeline. The pro-pipeline event had Wet’suwet’en Nation members explaining why they support the project.
During the meeting people mentioned that they wanted to see the economic opportunities that could be created by the construction.
One of the supporters, Robert Skin, was an elected member of the Skin Tyee First Nation council which is also a part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. He noted that the pipeline will give the next generation a better life.
“With the benefit agreement that [the Skin Tyee] did sign, I see us being in a better place even within the next five years,” he said.
When he was talking at the theatre, he noted that the protestors only have “one side of the story” and are not looking at the positive things that the project could bring.
As the lumber industry has been struggling in the region many people at the event explained that they wanted more of the community to have job opportunities so that they could provide for their families.
The Wet’suwet’en people also said that the protests have made conflict in the community worse than before. Some also noted that they did not want to see a separation between the First Nation and Canada.
Another part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation called the Witset First Nation is very divided on the issue according to Edward Tom, who told CBC that he thought the protestors are “very pugnacious and overbearing,” and added, “They’re professional protestors.”
A lot of people in attendance said that protestors seem to be unaware that many Wet’suwet’en people want the pipeline to be built. The people who have backed the pipeline said that they have received threats and intimidation from other members of the community.
The event marked Marion Tiljoe Shepard’s first time voicing her support for the project. She has a trucking company in the area and feels that the project will help her business along with others in the area. Shepard said that the protestors do not represent her or her community.
“It’s none of their business,” she said. “All of these protesters don’t have the right to close down railways and ships. It’s not right. Go away. I want them to leave.”
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.