B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson (green jacket) visits Gitdumden blockade on Morice River Road, before RCMP moved in to enforce court order to clear the road for Coastal Gaslink crews. (Twitter)

B.C. MLA defends visit to LNG pipeline protest camp

Doug Donaldson is minister in charge of pipeline permits

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says his visit to a gas pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. was not to support people defying a court order, but an effort to ease tensions before police moved in to clear their roadblock.

Opposition MLAs began calling for Donaldson’s resignation after pictures of his visit appeared on social media Monday. Donaldson approached the protester checkpoint with a box of supplies and was allowed into the Gitmunden blockade camp.

“As MLA for Stikine, it is my responsibility to listen to the views of the people I represent,” Donaldson said in a statement late Monday. “I visited the check point on the invitation of my constituents and hereditary chiefs to hear their concerns and observe protocols. At the same time I am aware that the laws of Canada must be upheld and court injunctions must be followed.”

RCMP officers moved in Monday to enforce an interim injunction against blockades set up near the Morice River Bridge south of Houston in northwestern B.C. The Unist’ot’en camp, set up by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, has been blocking access by Coastal GasLink crews doing preparation for a pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas export terminal approved for Kitimat.

After a struggle with police in tactical gear cutting away a gate across the road Monday, protesters set a fire at the camp and 14 people were taken into custody.

RELATED: RCMP enforce B.C. pipeline injunction

The project has been approved by Indigenous band councils all along the route, but opposition to all pipelines by some hereditary chiefs has been entrenched for several years, supported by anti-fossil fuel protesters from outside the region.

B.C. Liberal MLAs called for Donaldson to resign, arguing that as minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, he is responsible for issuing permits for the pipeline project and should not be supporting an illegal protest.

“First Nations communities across B.C. want economic development to address poverty and other issues, that’s why this project has the support of every elected band council along the route,” said Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, a former chief of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat. “What we keep seeing here are NDP ministers ignoring First Nations elected officials, because these communities don’t support the NDP activist agenda.”

Donaldson said his visit was to acknowledge the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, a foundation of constitutional rights and title for Indigenous people.

“This illustrates how these two systems of law are colliding and underlines the importance of the separate reconciliation process our government has undertaken with the office of the Wet’suwet’en,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Telkwa holds the line on mill rates

Telkwa taxes to remain steady, but water and sewer rates are going up

Terrace death not considered suspicious at this time: RCMP

Body of 49-year-old man was found in wooded area near Olson Ave. March 22

Highway 16 Action Plan driving progress

Safety, connectivity main goals of scheme presented to Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

Houston woman gets two years for aggravated assault

Ewald pleads guilty; trial of co-accused Calvin Dyrland begins in Smithers court

Multi-family housing zoning passed

The way is partly paved for 11 new multi-family strata buildings to go up in Smithers

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Norway opens probe into why cruise ship ventured into storm

The Viking Sky was headed for southern Norway when it had engine problems on Saturday afternoon

Fired B.C. farmland commission chair backs NDP rule changes

Richard Bullock agrees with Lana Popham, ALC records don’t

Michael Dunahee’s disappearance remains the largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

B.C. RCMP officer cleared after Taser incident seriously injures woman

Woman with knives refused to comply with orders therefore officer used appropriate level of force

Most Read