BREAKING: Trudeau won’t intervene in protesters blocking highways and railways
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to say that he will intervene in the #ShutDownCanada protests, which have crippled large parts of Canada’s infrastructure.
Speaking to reporters, the Trudeau said that, “I’m encouraging all parties to dialogue and resolve this as quickly as possible.” Trudeau, however, did not condemn the protests or threaten to intervene.
Over the last week, major parts of Canada’s infrastructure have been at a standstill due to blockades erected by activists opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built in northern British Columbia.
In Vancouver Island, protesters erected barricades to stop cars from accessing public highways. In Metro Vancouver, 57 demonstrators were arrested after judges granted an injunction to remove a blockade that had stopped workers from entering the Port of Vancouver.
Likewise, in Ontario, protestors decided to occupy the office of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in Toronto—chanting slogans like, “Canada is an illegitimate, violent, colonialist state.”
Demonstrators also blocked the train tracks in Belleville, Ontario, bringing all freight and passenger trains between Canada’s two largest cities and the nations capital to a halt.
So far, nearly all of the Conservative leadership candidates have strongly told Trudeau to enforce the injunction and remove the blockades. It is, so far, uncertain as to the extent of the cost to the Canadian economy from these protests.
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer ripped Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inaction over anti-pipeline blockades in the House of Commons Tuesday.
“Will our country be one of the rule of law? Or will our country be one of the rule of the mob?” Andrew Scheer said in response to Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent statement regarding the anti-pipeline protestors who are currently blockading several railways and ports.
“Let me be clear Mr. Speaker, standing between our country and prosperity is a small group of radical activists, many of whom have little to no connection to First Nations communities. A bunch of radical activists who won’t rest until our oil and gas industry is entirely shut down.”
“Now they may have the luxury of not having to go to work every day. They may have the luxury of not facing repercussions for skipping class, but they are blockading our ports, our railways, and our borders and roads and highways. They are appropriating an Indigenous agenda which they are willfully misrepresenting.”
This comes in response to Trudeau’s statement on February 17, wherein Trudeau gave little insight into what action would be taken. “We had a good meeting with morning with the incident response group, discussions with ministers, I made some phone calls to Indigenous leadership as well as a number of premiers. I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many families across the country. We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Protestors at this point remain blockading several crucial areas of travel for Canadians as well as routes necessary for transporting millions of dollars worth of goods.
Scheer called Trudeau’s inaction the “Weakest response to a national crisis in Canadian history.”
“I listened to the Prime Minister’s word salad just now, and at least two key things were missing: a clear denunciation that the actions of these radical activists are illegal, and some kind of an action plan that will put an end to the illegal blockades and get our economy back on track.”
Scheer called the statement a “complete advocation of responsibility and of leadership.”
Scheer also highlighted that the majority of members of the Wet’suwet’en people were in support of the coastal gas link project. “every single elected band council on the gas link route supports this project. The majority of hereditary chiefs support this project.”
If you reward something, you get more of it.
If you punish something, you get less of it.
It’s one of the most basic precepts of human nature, and it should be the bare minimum level of knowledge a government official possesses in the execution of their duties.
It’s the entire reason we have laws.
We punish behaviour that is illegal, in order to discourage that illegal behaviour.
Of course, no system is perfect, and we don’t want a “perfect system”, particularly not in a democracy.
But it has to work most of the time, particularly when the illegality is obvious and potentially damaging to the entire nation.
And when it comes to “rewards”, often the reward is in the elevation and respect of those who act in a way that helps that country and makes Canada a better place.
That’s what the majority of community members and the ELECTED Wet’suwet’en Chiefs were doing when they worked to get a good deal for their community, approved the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and worked to help encourage jobs and prosperity.
They followed the rules. They worked for the good of their community.
And what did they get in return?
They got betrayed by Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Meanwhile, the radical blockaders–many of whom don’t even represent the Wet’suwet’en community–broke the laws, are damaging Canada’s economy, and are ignoring repeated court injunctions.
In short, they broke the rules, and they’re working against the good of their community.
And what did they get in return?
They got rewarded, by Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Trudeau has elevated them, offered meetings, sent a Minister to talk to them, and has in effect given them control over the country by refusing to enforce the rule of law.
Now, as you read at the top of this article, when you reward something you get more of it, and when you punish something you get less of it.
And the consequences are clear:
Trudeau has shown that illegal protests will be rewarded with a gain of status and an ability to meet with government leaders.
Trudeau has also shown that the majority of community members who followed the rules and followed the laws will be ignored and betrayed, with their majority voices drowned out by the more extremist minority.
As a result, Canada can expect more and more illegal protests, while fewer communities will choose to follow the law.
You can already imagine what a massive disaster that will be.
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.
On Thursday, an announcement was made by CN Rail that it is ceasing operations of its whole network east of Toronto due to ongoing pipeline protests close to Belleville, Ont. Eastern Canada staff are now being laid off as a result according to CBC News.
This comes after VIA Rail has cancelled over 400 trains throughout the country and has affected more than 83,000 passengers.
Blockades continue to cut off the main line and the Maritime provinces are taking the blow. The blockades have been put in place to show support for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are against the pipeline that is to be built in northern B.C.
According to CN Rail spokesperson, Alexandre Boulé the layoff notices have been sent to employees in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and New Brunswick.
“Our shutdown is progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely,” said Boulé in an email.
Bruce Snow, a union spokesperson said that so far in Moncton, seven people have been temporarily laid off and three others have been laid off in Halifax. He noted that there are more to come.
“We do, however, anticipate a much larger impact should the blockades continue to reduce or shut down the CN eastern network.”
Executive director at the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, Jean-Marc Picard said that the impact started to be felt last week.
“Obviously if things keep up, we’re going to be even busier,” said Picard. He also noted that a single rail car does the work of three trucks.
“We can’t handle all the rail traffic that’s sitting there, it would be logistically impossible. But we’re certainly doing what we can to alleviate the impact on communities.”
Picard said that they are working to meet the needs but still have to meet their normal demands. Regulations in the industry also limit the amount of hours an employee can drive in a week and the company can’t do anything beyond these regulations.
“People don’t realize how crucial it is, transportation to communities. Whether it’s medical supplies, food, fuel,” noted Picard.
He also said that the backlog “will drag on for weeks and weeks” even if trains are back up and running by tomorrow.
On Sunday, Nathalie St-Pierre, the Canadian Propane Association president and CEO said that a shortage of propane will start to be seen in a matter of days.
“This is an emergency. People have to understand that, and those that are protesting have to understand that there needs to be resumption of the services,” She said.
“We haven’t seen any progress in terms of finding solutions now for the issues of getting the transportation to be back to normal. So it’s very troublesome.”
“Some industries can switch back to oil or other sources, but that’s also going to run out eventually.”