Trudeau speaks out on LNG protests

Kaia Proctor / February 18th, 2020

Trudeau began his speech saying “Within the last week, young, old, indigenous, newcomers – they’re asking themselves what is happening in this country?”
(Women Deliver / Flickr)

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has spoken out in the house of commons following nearly two weeks of protests from those standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.  He’s calling for patience and discussion from both protestors and government.

“There are those who would want us to act in haste, who want us to boil this down to slogans and ignore complexities, who think using force is helpful. It is not. Patience may be in short supply but that makes it more valuable than ever.”- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Protestors are fighting against the Coastal Gaslink pipeline set to be built through the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory. They’ve maintained a blockade around points of the proposed route for months – which RCMP have forcibly removed and arrested protestors from in accordance with a controversial court injunction.

This fuelled protestors further however, and they’ve since shut down Via Rail nationwide as well as CN Rail in Eastern Canada for 12 days now by blocking a key route in southern Ontario.

“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN.

Official opposition party leader Andrew Scheer highly criticized Trudeau’s speech saying it was a “word salad”.

“The prime minister has emboldened and encouraged this kind of behaviour.”- Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party Leader

Scheer has stated if he were in government he would direct RCMP to remove “radical protestors”.

This is a power which has rarely been used and leaves government at risk of being accused of political interference with policing.

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde made a statement just hours before the House of Commons meeting. He’s calling for all parties involved in the conflict – hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs, elected band officials, and provincial as well as federal politicians – to meet for an open discussion and solve this conflict.

“It’s on everybody. It’s not on any one individual,” he said. “I’m just calling on all the parties to come together, get this dialogue started in a constructive way.” -Perry Bellegarde, National Chief – Assembly of First Nations

Trudeau echoed this statement in his speech, saying the government was going to create a space to begin a cooperative dialogue.

“We are creating a space for peaceful honest dialogue with willing partners … We need Canadians to show both resolve and collaboration. Everyone has a stake in getting this right.”

Following the cabinet meeting, Trudeau and his cabinet ministers hosted a meeting with other party leaders- Elizabeth May of the Green Party, Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh- Andrew Sheer of the Conservatives however was not invited.

So far all the railway blockades remain in place.