Respectful discussion, not intrusion into politicians’ offices and homes, is the way to resolve the railway blockades that are increasingly affecting the Canadian economy, B.C. Premier John Horgan said Thursday.
Efforts by B.C. and federal Indigenous relations ministers to meet with dissident Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline have been rebuffed so far, but they will continue, Horgan told reporters as he prepared for the latest conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Those efforts resulted in the removal of the CN Rail blockade at New Hazelton on Feb. 14, but a blockade at Belleville, Ont. and others popping up around the country in sympathy with pipeline opponents continued Thursday. The opposing Wet’suwet’en chiefs headed east to visit with their Mohawk supporters in Ontario, and have not responded to a series of invitations, Horgan told reporters at the B.C. legislature.
A call with provincial and territorial premiers Wednesday focused on the economic consequences of more blockades, which have targeted bridges and Metro Vancouver transit as well as key national rail corridors, Horgan said.
“In B.C. the rail operators have sought and been granted injunctions, and the assumption is that law enforcement will enforce those as required,” Horgan said. “So in British Columbia those operators are at a place where they can anticipate they can conduct their affairs. Not so in Ontario currently, and that I believe is the focus of most of the prime minister’s and the federal government’s concern.”
Disruptions of daily life extended to Horgan’s home Tuesday, as a small group calling themselves Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island took their tactics beyond downtown Victoria streets.
“I didn’t want to talk about this,” Horgan said when reporters brought it up. “I think it draws attention to that approach to civil disobedience. It’s obviously disrupting for my neighbours, who did not seek election, for my spouse, who did not seek election, the vast majority of British Columbians and Canadians think it’s just out of bounds.
“You want to yell at me, fill your boots. I’m available, I’m around. I normally wade into crowds, often times against my better judgment, and I’m not going to apologize for being as accessible as I possibly can. But nor will I apologize for saying to people who think that bringing bringing trauma to my peaceful neighbourhood in Langford is somehow a good idea.”
In Vancouver, pipeline opponents have blocked port facilities and occupied federal MP and MLA offices, including that of B.C. Attorney General David Eby, harassing staff and in one case dancing on desks.