B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson (green jacket) visits Gitdumden blockade on Morice River Road, before RCMP moved in to enforce court order to clear the road for Coastal Gaslink crews. (Twitter)

B.C. MLA defends visit to LNG pipeline protest camp

Doug Donaldson is minister in charge of pipeline permits

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says his visit to a gas pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. was not to support people defying a court order, but an effort to ease tensions before police moved in to clear their roadblock.

Opposition MLAs began calling for Donaldson’s resignation after pictures of his visit appeared on social media Monday. Donaldson approached the protester checkpoint with a box of supplies and was allowed into the Gitmunden blockade camp.

“As MLA for Stikine, it is my responsibility to listen to the views of the people I represent,” Donaldson said in a statement late Monday. “I visited the check point on the invitation of my constituents and hereditary chiefs to hear their concerns and observe protocols. At the same time I am aware that the laws of Canada must be upheld and court injunctions must be followed.”

RCMP officers moved in Monday to enforce an interim injunction against blockades set up near the Morice River Bridge south of Houston in northwestern B.C. The Unist’ot’en camp, set up by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, has been blocking access by Coastal GasLink crews doing preparation for a pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas export terminal approved for Kitimat.

After a struggle with police in tactical gear cutting away a gate across the road Monday, protesters set a fire at the camp and 14 people were taken into custody.

RELATED: RCMP enforce pipeline injunction

RELATED: International protest network holding rallies

The project has been approved by Indigenous band councils all along the route, but opposition to all pipelines by some hereditary chiefs has been entrenched for several years, supported by anti-fossil fuel protesters from outside the region.

B.C. Liberal MLAs called for Donaldson to resign, arguing that as minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, he is responsible for issuing permits for the pipeline project and should not be supporting an illegal protest.

“First Nations communities across B.C. want economic development to address poverty and other issues, that’s why this project has the support of every elected band council along the route,” said Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, a former chief of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat. “What we keep seeing here are NDP ministers ignoring First Nations elected officials, because these communities don’t support the NDP activist agenda.”

Donaldson said his visit was to acknowledge the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, a foundation of constitutional rights and title for Indigenous people.

“This illustrates how these two systems of law are colliding and underlines the importance of the separate reconciliation process our government has undertaken with the office of the Wet’suwet’en,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hwy. 5 closed south of Blue River due to ‘vehicle incident’

Social media reports say a semi-truck lost its load

Police warn Barriere residents about suspicious prowlers on private property late at night or early morning hours

Residents advised to secure their vehicles and remove all valuable contents

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

African Children’s Choir making a difference in the world

Waroto Children’s Choir celebrate Christ and caring for community on six month world tour

Snowpack at normal levels, but El Niño is lurking

Despite a warmer than usual winter that has produced a dearth of… Continue reading

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

Most Read