A protester stands between Mohawk Warrior Society flags at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was tightlipped Monday about his plan to deal with anti-pipeline blockades on railways, bridges and highways as he emerged from an emergency meeting with cabinet ministers emphasizing his desire to find a quick and peaceful end to the crisis.

The closed-door meeting followed a week of growing pressure on the Liberal government to end the blockades, which started earlier this month in response to the planned construction of a $6.6-billion natural-gas pipeline in northern British Columbia called Coastal GasLink.

Speaking briefly to reporters after stepping out of the building across from Parliament Hill that houses the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau said he had reached out to a number of premiers and Indigenous leaders to discuss the standoff.

“I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many people and families across the country,” he said. “We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home, did not take any questions before being driven away by his RCMP security detail.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Justice Minister David Lametti and others who attended the meeting with Trudeau were similarly mum.

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

Monday’s emergency meeting was held as protesters continued to block rail lines as well as highways and bridges in different parts of the country. Those included shutting down for the first time the Thousand Islands Bridge border crossing near Kingston, Ont.

The Ontario Provincial Police indicated they didn’t plan on breaking up that protest, saying “the OPP has no role to play in the underlying issues of the event and is not in a position to resolve them.” Protesters lifted their blockade of the bridge in the afternoon.

Mounties in Manitoba also reported about eight to ten demonstrators at a CN Rail crossing on Highway 75 in southern Manitoba. The highway and rail line both run south to the U.S. border crossing at Emerson, Man.

RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne says police are stopping traffic for safety, but that vehicles are still able to pass in both directions. CN said train movement in the area had been stopped and that the company was “evaluating our legal options very closely.”

The RCMP said it had deployed a liaison team to the site to “establish a dialogue and maintain open and ongoing communication.”

Police have largely refrained from direct action against the blockades since the RCMP enforced an injunction outside Houston, B.C. earlier this month, where opponents of the Coastal GasLink project were preventing access to a work site for the pipeline.

While more than 20 people were arrested and the company is preparing to resume work, the RCMP raid sparked more protests and blockades across the country.

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s council. But Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs are opposed to the project and say the council does not have authority over the relevant land.

There are now growing concerns about the economic costs of the protests, which have shut down rail service across much of eastern Canada as well as parts of B.C. and the Prairies. That has led to calls for the federal government to take stronger action against the protesters.

Shortly after the emergency session in Ottawa, Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, sat down with her B.C. counterpart, Scott Fraser, where the two agreed to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss their concerns.

Yet while the federal government appears to be pinning at least part of its hopes on that meeting to resolve the crisis, no date has yet been set.

READ MORE: Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

—With files from Nicole Thompson in Toronto and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

Thunderbird Show Park cancels Canadian Premier and Odlum Brown BC Open

First cancellation in 47-year history of Langley

VIDEO: Feeding front-line medical responders at Langley Memorial Hospital

When a volleyball championship was cancelled, the teams decided to repurpose the registration fees

VIDEO: Sirens show support for Langley Memorial Hospital staff

Friday drive-past the latest in a province-wide campaign to boost morale at B.C. medical facilities

Smiling 98-year-old inspires new ways to connect at Langley hospital

Foundation staff liaise between patients and loved-ones who can’t visit due to restrictions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read