Land protectors stand near the closed train tracks on the ninth day of the protest in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Friday Feb. 14, 2020, the protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Land protectors stand near the closed train tracks on the ninth day of the protest in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Friday Feb. 14, 2020, the protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

No quick fix to pipeline protests, Trudeau says, as rail links severed

Protests continue as political leaders look to negotiate solutions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there are no easy answers to the dispute over a B.C. pipeline project that has sparked Indigenous protests at vital rail links across Canada.

In his most extensive public comments since anti-pipeline protests began affecting freight and passenger rail traffic across Canada last week, Trudeau said Friday that the path forward is “fraught with challenges and obstacles to overcome.”

“You need to know we have failed our Indigenous peoples over generations, over centuries. And there is no quick fix to it,” Trudeau said, adding that all parties must move towards reconciliation.

“We also are, obviously, a country of laws. And making sure that those laws are enforced, even as there is, of course, freedom to demonstrate free and to protest,” he said.

“Getting that balance right and wrapping it up in the path forward … is really important.”

Tensions could heat up today, with the added threat of activists planning to shut down government offices in B.C.’s capital.

Protests continue as political leaders look to negotiate solutions, while business leaders, opposition politicians and ordinary people call for immediate action to end the disruptions, which have already seen more than 80 arrests.

Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan spoke Thursday about the need to work together to resolve the pipeline tensions that have resulted in solidarity blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and B.C.

Indigenous leaders in B.C.’s northwest have invited federal and provincial politicians to meetings to find solutions, and said they would ensure a blockade of a Canadian National Railway track near New Hazelton, B.C., would come down during talks.

CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis confirmed Friday morning the New Hazelton blockade had been lifted.

READ MORE: B.C. officials meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs over gas pipeline protest

The railway said Thursday it was starting a progressive shutdown in the East, while Via Rail cancelled all service on CN tracks in Canada.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said safe and efficient passenger and freight rail service is critical to Canada’s well-being.

He is to meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as representatives of national Indigenous organizations to discuss a way forward.

The blockades began last week after RCMP enforced an injunction against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada export project.

Horgan has rejected calls from the Opposition Liberals to seek immediate injunctions to end the blockades and protests in B.C.

“We can’t just use force,” he said in the legislature. “It needs to be dealt with by co-operation, by consultation, by discussion so that we can all move forward.”

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan was taking an “entirely passive approach in the face of implacable protesters who are intent on shutting down constituency services, shutting down the universities, shutting down our transportation arteries.”

“The issues going on right now, these days, in Canada are pitting Indigenous Peoples and concerns about the environment against economic development,” Trudeau said.

“But, of course, there are lots of Indigenous Peoples who want economic development. They just need to want to see this being done in the right way, and in a way that is respectful and partnership.”

Groups including Grain Growers of Canada, Forest Products Association of Canada and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have said rail delays caused by the blockades are hurting their members and the economy.

Teamsters Canada, the country’s largest union in the transportation sector, called on the federal government to intervene.

The union warned the impasse could put up to 6,000 employees at CN and other rail companies out of work.

Protesters have threatened to block government buildings in Victoria on Friday, but late Thursday a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an injunction against further blockades at the legislature.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route.

However, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area and say band councils only have authority over reserve lands.

More than two dozen people have been arrested in the pipeline construction area near Houston by RCMP enforcing an injunction order. Vancouver Police arrested more than 50 people this week enforcing an injunction order against people blocking access to Vancouver area ports.

Mia Rabson and Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkPipeline

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

Just Posted

THE REAL PHOTO: Linda Annis, executive director with Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers holds a note commonly posted on doors when people go on vacation. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Surrey councillor slams mayor’s slate for doctoring her photo, quote in social media attack ad

Linda Annis says the Safe Surrey Coalition has been running “fake news” and a doctored photo of her in an attack ad on the slate’s twitter account and its Facebook page.

The City Centre 1 building is part of Surrey Health and Technology District, adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital. (submitted photo)
Maritimes city plans Health and Technology District similar to Surrey’s

Surrey-based Lark Group involved in the public-private-academic partnership

Glisha
Surrey singer Glisha, band Sylvia Platters win Fraser Valley Music Awards

Nov. 19 event saw awards for artists in 16 categories, including former Surreyite Ashley Pater

The City of White Rock is warning residents to be careful about unscheduled doorstep calls, after reports of salespeople misrepresenting themselves as city workers conducting water tests. STOCK IMAGE
City of White Rock warns of bogus water test visits

Residents report salespeople ‘give impression’ they are municipal employees

Semiahmoo Secondary senior girls basketball team members (left to right) Deja Lee, Tara Wallack and Izzy Forsyth sign their official NCAA commitments at an event earlier this month. (Contributed photo)
Semiahmoo Secondary holds signing-day ceremony for three NCAA-bound basketball stars

Deja Lee, Tara Wallack and Izzy Forsyth committed to U.S. universities earlier this year

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Most Read