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

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

Coastal GasLink gives $100K to United Way efforts in Northern B.C.

Organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund benefits seniors in isolation, among others

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read