Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde releases “Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada” during a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s past time to resolve the nationwide blockades and tensions over a B.C. pipeline project and is asking demonstrators to engage with his government to seek a solution.

Speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday morning, the prime minister warned that a path forward won’t be easily found, but says everyone has a stake in getting this right.

He said the protests are serious and a critical moment for the country.

Trudeau is under increasing pressure to end the blockades, which he says he wants to do quickly but peacefully.

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline through their traditional territory, though it’s received approval from elected band councils.

Since the RCMP moved in to enforce an injunction and keep the hereditary chiefs and their supporters away from the pipeline worksites, protests by Indigenous people and supporters have shut down the CN rail network in eastern Canada, suspended most Via Rail passenger service, and temporarily blocked traffic on streets and bridges and at ports in multiple cities.

Trudeau said he is formally extending his government’s hand in partnership and trust to Indigenous demonstrators.

Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer replied that Trudeau’s speech was a weak response and a failure of leadership. He called on the prime minister to denounce what Scheer called radical activists.

The response, and heckling in the House of Commons, came hours after the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations called for calm and constructive dialogue to ease tensions.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde told reporters in Ottawa that governments and industry have to give the time and space to work with the Wet’suwet’en people.

Bellegarde said he has spoken with all parties involved to find a way forward.

“We say we want to de-escalate and we want dialogue,” he said.

“And I say our people are taking action because they want to see action — and when they see positive action by the key players, when they see a commitment to real dialogue to address this difficult situation, people will respond in a positive way.”

Other chiefs speaking alongside Bellegarde on Tuesday morning suggested it may be time to bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion and bring down the blockades.

Indigenous-relations ministers both federally and in B.C. are seeking to meet First Nations leaders in hopes of finding a solution.

And this evening, the House of Commons will hold an emergency debate on the issue after the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois successfully lobbied the Speaker of the House.

Also Tuesday, Via announced it expects to resume partial passenger service Thursday between Ottawa and Quebec City, including a stop in Montreal.

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

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Barriere Timber Mart looking after staff and customers during Covid-19 crisis

Staff at Barriere Timber Mart are saying “thank you” to their customers… Continue reading

COVID-19: Interior Health orders closure of all fitness centres until May 30

The order is subject to revision, cancellation, or extension

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Most Read