WATCH: Police raid anti-pipeline camp and arrest protestors
RCMP raided an anti-pipeline camp in northern B.C. early Thursday morning. At least four people were arrested according to the protestors.
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.”
An Ontario couple has been arrested and charged with laundering money in connection with the Canada Revenue Agency telephone scam. The two, husband and wife, were also involved in other multinational schemes. Their arrests are the result of Project Octavia, a longstanding investigation into the CRA tax telephone scam according to CTV News.
RCMP investigators arrested a 37-year-old man and 36-year-old woman on Wednesday in Brampton, Ont. They believe that there is also a 26-year-old foreign national involved, currently living in India whom they have issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for.
The RCMP said the CRA scam has been going on since 2014. Callers based out of India would call Canadians posing as federal agents and intimidate their victims into paying non-existent outstanding taxes or fines.
“This has led to Canadians becoming wary or suspicious even when CRA is attempting legitimate contact,” RCMP said.
There has been a total of more than $16.8 million in victim losses reported since 2014 in the CRA scam alone. That number jumps up to over $30 million with the inclusion of other scams such as tech support and bank investor scams according to the RCMP.
RCMP Insp. Jim Ogden spoke at a press conference in Milton, Ontario on Friday saying, “We have disrupted the necessary flow of money from Canada to India, which will have a big impact on the operation and the bottom line of the scammers,”
The pair recently arrested in Brampton were likely “money mules” purported Ogden, claiming that the couple laundered the proceeds of these telemarketing scams in Canada and sending it elsewhere.
Project Octavia has led to the takedown of 39 illegal call centres in India as well as arrests in Canada. A public awareness and prevention campaign has helped make Canadians more aware of the scam and RCMP’s efforts have helped to reduce the number of successful scam calls since 2018.
The proof is in the numbers as the total amount of victim losses in 2018 was $6.4 million and within a year that number was down to $1.4 million.
RCMP continue to go after money mule networks in Canada in cooperation with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and RCMP criminal analysts, Canada Border Services Agency, the CRA, provincial police and the RCMP liaison officer in India. Authorities in the U.S. and India continue to aid investigations as well.
Gurinderpreet Dhaliwal, 37, and Inderpreet Dhaliwal, 36, from Brampton have both been charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of laundering of the proceeds of crime, and one count of property obtained by crime.
“We remain steadfast in our pursuit,” Ogden said.
A Canadian photojournalist has again been threatened with arrest twice in two days by the RCMP and CP police after attempting to cover the anti-pipeline #ShutDownCanada protests.
On Friday, photojournalist Jesse Winter was threatened for a second time in two days the RCMP and the CP police for doing his job as a journalist. In the video, Winter can be heard criticizing the police for not allowing him to document the protests.
“Are you aware of the amount of criticism the RCMP and the CP police have face this week for exactly this,” asked Winter. The police officer refused to comment on the matter, instead of refusing to allow the photographer access to the site.
Just one day earlier, Winter said on Twitter that a Canadian Pacific police officer threatened to arrest him for documenting the #ShutDownCanada protests that have crippled parts of the country’s infrastructure.
Protests across Canada have sprung up over the last two weeks in reaction to the construction of a pipeline in Northern British Columbia. In Ontario, protestors blocked the tracks at Belleville, stopping all train travel between Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Since the protest began last Thursday, Via Rail has had to cancel 157 trips, leaving at least 24,500 passengers stranded. All freight trains carrying goods across the country are halted as well.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he would not intervene in any of the #ShutDownCanada protests. Conservative leaders, on the other hand, were outraged by Trudeau’s lack of leadership in dealing with the shutting down of major highways and railways.
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 Toronto, protestors decided to occupy the office of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations—chanting slogans like, “Canada is an illegitimate, violent, colonialist state.”