A man carries a Mohawk Warrior Society flag as protesters march on Hastings Street in support of Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs attempting to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline on their traditional territories, in Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

The Conservatives have put a motion of no-confidence in the government on the House of Commons order paper.

Their House leader Candice Bergen says the Opposition has no faith in the Liberals’ ability to end the transportation blockades over a natural-gas pipeline in B.C.

The motion would require the support of all the opposition parties to bring down Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and force an election, though, and two of the leaders of those parties all but dismissed the idea.

Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois called it an “idle threat,” considering the Conservatives are without a permanent leader themselves.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the motion “ridiculous,” and said an election would plunge Canada into further crisis.

Meanwhile, a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief says the chiefs won’t meet with the federal government until both the RCMP and Coastal GasLink leave their traditional territory.

Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, said Wednesday the chiefs have communicated their terms to Carolyn Bennett, the minister responsible for Crown-Indigenous relations.

Bennett has sought to meet with the chiefs as the federal government faces mounting pressure to take action against protesters and demonstrators whose blockades have stopped road and rail traffic across the country.

“Remove RCMP from our territory, remove (Coastal GasLink) from our territory, and we’ll have discussions,” Na’moks said.

Even if the conditions are met, the meeting won’t happen soon.

Four of five clan chiefs who are the highest leaders under the First Nation’s traditional form of governance, were travelling to Mohawk territory Wednesday to meet with members of the Mohawk Confederacy of six nations.

“We want to the thank the Mohawk for standing with us for our rights and title, and to remind them to stay peaceful,” Na’moks said.

He will not be making the trip due to a death in the family. He said he has not seen the itinerary and can’t confirm if the delegation will visit protest sites.

After rejecting the meeting with Bennett until the RCMP and Coastal GasLink staff leave Wet’suwet’en territory, Na’moks said he was not worried if people view the trip as an attempt exacerbate or extend the protests.

“This is what we’ve been asking for all along,” he said.

“The province and Canada are hanging their hat on one project, when they’ve got so many more they can work positively together [with First Nations] on.”

Na’moks said any meeting with the federal government would have to take place on the Wet’suwet’en territory, which means it wouldn’t occur until next week at the earliest. He is hopeful the delegation will return this Sunday or Monday.

He said he’s not concerned that the chiefs might miss a window of opportunity for dialogue with the federal government.

“We’ve been here for thousands of years,” he said. “It’s their timeline, it’s not ours.”

Coastal GasLink couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

RCMP said in a statement Tuesday night they are aware of the request and discussions are underway on next steps.

The request concerns a small, mobile detachment in a remote area of B.C. where RCMP arrested 28 people when they enforced an injunction on behalf of Coastal GasLink this month.

Most officers have left the area since RCMP said their major operations in the region have concluded, but they’ve said the mobile unit would remain in place and they’ll continue “patrols of the corridor to ensure everyone’s safety.”

During an emergency debate Tuesday night, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Bennett spoke with the chiefs that day. The situation is evolving hour by hour, he said, describing the de-escalation efforts as positive.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has called his own meeting, saying on Twitter that as chairman of the Council of the Federation he will convene a conference call with Canada’s premiers.

Moe said the blockades have been up for almost two weeks and while the prime minister spoke in Parliament about the ongoing illegal activity “he offered no course of action to protect the economic interests of our nation.”

Quebec Premier Francois said he wants Trudeau to issue an ultimatum to protesters to take down rail blockades within days, while Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calls the extended illegal protests of Canada’s rail lines “anarchy.”

Via Rail says it is temporarily laying off 1,000 employees due to blockades that continue to stop service on CN tracks in Eastern Canada.

Trudeau told reporters Wednesday his government is trying to find a resolution, but also acknowledged the economic impact that the rail blockades are having across the country.

“We know that people are facing shortages, they’re facing disruptions, they’re facing layoffs. That’s unacceptable. That’s why we’re going to continue working extremely hard with everyone involved to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

READ MORE: CN Rail laying off 450 workers after blockade forces shutdown in eastern Canada

– with a file from Quinn Bender, the Interior News

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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