Police serve an injunction to protesters at a rail blockade in St-Lambert, south of Montreal, Que. on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The protesters are blocking the line in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

All eyes are on Canadian police forces now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes must come down.

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief says that won’t happen unless and until the Mounties get off their traditional territory in northern British Columbia and Coast GasLink halts construction on a natural-gas pipeline that crosses their land.

Chief Woos of the Grizzly House says Indigenous leadership will only begin negotiating with the Canadian government under those same conditions. But Trudeau says injunctions ordering the rail lines be cleared must be obeyed and the law must be enforced.

The blockades are responses by Indigenous people and supporters to a move by the RCMP to clear protesters who had been blocking access to the pipeline worksite.

Protesters who’d been blockading a CN Rail line in St-Lambert, Que., south of Montreal since Wednesday cleared out Friday night shortly after riot police arrived on scene ready to enforce an injunction to clear the tracks. But the blockade of a critical east-west rail line on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario remains in place — and more protests are planned for March 20 along the borders of Manitoba.

Ontario Provincial Police say they don’t intend to break up the Tyendinaga protest in the immediate future, however, Trudeau says the inconvenience to Canadians has gone on long enough, given that the blockades have halted rail lines for weeks.

ALSO READ: Everything you need to know about the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute

“Let us be clear: all Canadians are paying the price. Some people can’t get to work, others have lost their jobs,” he told a news conference yesterday. “Essential goods … cannot get where they need to go.”

But Woos said the inconvenience to Canadians pales in comparison to what the Wet’suwet’en people have experienced.

“There is a difference between inconvenience and injustice — total difference. Don’t confuse one with the other,” he said after meeting with Mohawk allies on Tyendinaga territory.

He noted that Wet’suwet’en land was never surrendered to the Canadian government in any treaties, so RCMP presence there amounts to an occupation.

On Thursday, the RCMP in B.C. sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, telling them the force intends to move its officers off the access road and station them instead in the nearby town of Houston.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he believes this move meets the original conditions set by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, but Woos said it doesn’t go far enough.

“Out means out,” Woos said.

In addition to tension with the First Nations, Trudeau is also experiencing pushback from the provinces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement Friday saying “enough is enough.”

“The illegal blockades must come down. This is a national emergency and innocent people from coast to coast are being hurt. The federal government must co-ordinate action to take down these illegal blockades across the country.”

Alberta’s Jason Kenney, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, said the barricades are scaring away investment and giving the impression that Canada can’t operate as a modern democratic country.

And Quebec Premier Francois Legault warned on Thursday that provincial police would dismantle the blockade near Montreal as soon as an injunction was granted.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipeline

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

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

Grand Forks and Boundary cancellations, changes due to COVID-19

This newspaper’s list of community events, institutions that change or cancel due to pandemic

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

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

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

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

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read