By Fran Yanor
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
VICTORIA, BC, Feb. 13, 2020 – Question Period: In a spirited exchange, Prince George Valemount MLA Shirley Bond demanded Premier John Horgan seek an injunction to end the CN rail blockade after Wet’suet’en protests stopped traffic along the rail line, and caused a halt to operations in the Prince Rupert port.
“As we speak, a rail blockade in northern B.C. is stopping companies from shipping their goods, whether it’s lumber, whether it’s grain and other commodities,” said Bond, also referencing an appeal for action by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “When will this Premier get up, do his job, and seek an injunction to remove the rail blockade?”
The Premier responded that he and Prime Minister Trudeau had agreed to meet with the leadership of Wet’suwet’en and the Gitxsan territories, and that CN was seeking an injunction to clear their right-of-way.
Earlier in the House proceedings, Horgan referenced the unanimous passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by all sides of the BC legislature last fall.
“These issues have been emerging over 150 years,” the Premier said in response to a question from Liberal Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson. “But we can’t just say that that inappropriate behaviour should be dealt with by force. It needs to be dealt with by cooperation, by consultation, by discussion so that we can all move forward together. I thought we’d agreed on that with respect to Indigenous rights just last fall.”
VICTORIA, BC, Feb. 13, 2020 – Protests erupted in several cities and along CN Rail lines after the RCMP enforced a court injunction last week against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters near Houston, BC.
The initial protest had blocked construction of a section of the 670-kilometre, $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export pipeline project that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is planned to run from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, and has garnered support from the 20 elected chiefs that span the rest of the pipeline path.
Since the removal of protesters from LNG construction site in Wet’suwet’en territory, the anti-pipeline protest has gained support from the public, and disparate factions ranging from some Victoria city councillors to the nascent BC Ecosocialists, a newly-formed provincial party that wants to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and the LNG projects.
VICTORIA, BC, Feb. 11 – After several days camped on the provincial Legislature grounds, supporters of the Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest stopped traffic on bridges and intersections in Vancouver and Victoria today and stepped up their democratic right-to-protest at the legislature. On the morning of the official beginning of the legislative session, the day of the government’s Throne Speech, demonstrators temporarily prevented staff, politicians and members of the press from entering or exiting the building. A few staff reported being sworn at, elbowed, and spat upon. Press at the scene indicated these were isolated events; most protesters were civil, if spirited, throughout.
The loud, chanting crowd surrounded all exits, causing logistical changes in the Throne Speech tradition. The Lieutenant Governor is tasked with opening the government legislative session and reading the Throne Speech in the House. Protocol calls for the LG to enter the legislature ceremoniously up the front steps, be met by the Premier, and escorted inside. Instead, LG Janet Austin slipped discreetly into the buildings unnoticed.
On Feb. 13, the Speaker of the House got an injunction to prevent further protests from “interfering, disturbing or disrupting, or attempting to interfere, disturb or disrupt, the business of and proper functioning of the Legislative Assembly… (including) obstructing the access of Members, legislative staff of Members, and officers and staff of the Legislative Assembly…”