B.C. Premier John Horgan and Cheryl Casimer of the B.C. First Nations Summit executive take part in the sixth annual conference of the B.C. cabinet and Indigenous leaders, Vancouver, Nov. 5, 2019. Horgan says his work to heal historic divisions will continue. (B.C. government)

VIDEO: John Horgan denounces B.C. legislature anti-pipeline siege

Premier describes staff and interns as ‘intimidated, ridiculed’

There have been many large protests at the B.C. legislature, some of which Premier John Horgan was part of in his younger days, but Tuesday’s siege was unacceptable, Horgan said Wednesday.

The anti-Coastal Gaslink demonstration was much smaller than others arranged by teachers and others to make demands on the B.C. government, but it turned into a siege to keep everyone out with intimidation and ridicule, Horgan told reporters Wednesday. He described a group of legislature interns who faced a wall of yelling protesters on their first day on the job.

“They were shaken, absolutely. Intimidated, in some cases dragged up the stairs to get into the building,” Horgan said. “They did not sign on to be intimidated, ridiculed and jostled as they tried to do their jobs.”

The speech was marred by hundreds of loud, chanting protesters rejecting reconciliation, a natural gas pipeline across northern B.C. and Canada itself as a colonial invader to the province. Students and other supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the Coastal Gaslink pipeline surrounded the legislature, blocking MLAs, staff and reporters from entering Tuesday.

The ceremonial arrival and inspection by Lt. Governor Janet Austin was cancelled, as protesters backing blockades near Smithers plan the latest of a series of rallies to coincide with the speech.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was among those turned away by protesters as she tried to enter the building, one of several MLAs who decided to stay away for the first day of a session that is scheduled to last until the end of May.

Asked about the repeated blocking of roads, bridges and rail lines that has extended as far away as Ontario, Horgan said he has experienced that himself and has also been asked to put a stop to it.

“I don’t want to live in a society where politicians direct police to take action against other citizens without appropriate reasons for doing so,” Horgan said. “That’s why we have courts. That’s why injunctions are sought.

“People say hey, you’re in my way, get out of my way, why aren’t the cops doing something. I understand that. I drove by two bridges the other day on my way home the other day.”

Horgan said he cancelled his Tuesday news conference after the throne speech because he was upset about the events and wanted to take time to understand reports of injured staff members and other disruptions. He said he has seen many protests much bigger than the estimated 500 students who descended on Tuesday, but all kept their distance and delivered their message peacefully.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoastal GasLink

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

Just Posted

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Closures and cancellations in the Bulkley Valley due to COVID-19

Many places and businesses have closed or reduced their hours

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

Concerns raised over publicly discarded masks, gloves

Deputy mayor says behaviour is simply unacceptable in time of elevated public health crisis

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Most Read