There are some key things that we can agree on when it comes to paying taxes.
We pay to have roads.
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.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has held discussions with the Senegalese President Macky Sall over a partnership that could offer “attractive growth potential” in the oil and gas sector for the West African country.
Justin Trudeau has been on a world tour in an attempt to garner support for a seat at the United Nation’s security council. Trudeau was in Africa last week, where he granted a $10 million package to empower African women.
Trudeau’s willingness to engage in foreign oil and gas projects may come as a surprise to Canadians who have seen the prime minister fail to intervene in illegal blockades over the building of a pipeline in Northern British Columbia.
On top of this, the Trudeau government has been accused of killing the Keystone XL pipeline by the Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and created significant economic strife after delaying the construction of the TMX pipeline.
More recently, the Trudeau government has considered killing another energy project in Alberta: namely, the TeckMine oilsands project that could create 7,000 jobs for the province.
Senegal is currently revamping their economy to provide more opportunities to the oil and gas sectors within their country. This expansion will supposedly offer opportunities for Canadian energy firms, while not affecting the carbon targets of the Trudeau government in Canada.
The Trudeau government’s willingness to consider oil and gas expansions in Africa (a country that is noted for it’s poor record on human rights) whilst expressing a lukewarm attitude towards Canadian energy projects, may create a strong reaction back home.
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.