Sunday , 11 April 2021

MLA Hanson criticizes PM Trudeau on handling rail blockade protests

MLA David Hanson did not mince words when responding to the current rail blockades that began in Northern British Columbia and soon caused CN Rail and Via Rail to stop most trains countrywide in opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Hanson bemoaned the blow it represents to industry as protests began with members of Wet’suwet’en nation but spread to blockades to the east coast from Indigenous groups after arrests were made.

“This is crazy. It’s just another blow to our industries, farming, especially I understand. There are grain tankers off the coast of B.C. waiting for trains to come and fill up. They can’t even come into the port until the grain is available,” said Hanson on Friday.

“Where’s our Prime Minister? Touring Africa and touring Europe and it’s very disappointing. The kind of rhetoric we heard from his minister on the 12th, basically passing the responsibility onto the province, provincial governments, it’s just crazy.”

Prime Minister Trudeau returned to Canada late last week and addressed the situation in the House of Commons calling for patience and dialogue to resolve the situation.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer called Trudeau’s statement the “weakest response to a national crisis” in Canada’s history, which left him uninvited to a leader’s meeting later on Tuesday.

RCMP was acting on a court injunction to end the protest, which caused the coast to coast stir.

TC Energy, the builder of the pipeline, had the go-ahead from 20 First Nations band councils who signed agreements in support of the project, including five of the six band councils in the Wet’suwet’en nation, CBC reported.

But their jurisdiction is questioned by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who say those band councils are only responsible for the territory within their individual reserves because their authority comes only from the Indian Act.

“How far do we have to go? We had an agreement on that particular gasoline pipeline from all of the First Nations along the line, elected officials representing those First Nations. Everybody’s in agreement, it’s a benefit to all of their people and provides jobs,” said Hanson.

The exact details about Indigenous support for the $6-billion, 670-kilometre pipeline is not firm.

With other proposed projects in the offing, such as the $20.6-billion Teck Frontier mine, which awaits federal approval by the end of the month, these protests could be a blow to getting these done.

“Then another group can come in and just start blockading buses, train tracks all over the country. Where’s the rule of law? It’s beyond frustrating.”

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.