Horgan says ‘rule of law applies,’ LNG pipeline will proceed despite protests

Rolling protest

Pipeline protesters escorted by OPP cruisers slow traffic along Highway 401 near Kitchener Ont. on Friday Jan. 11 2019

Premier John Horgan says a natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia will be built despite on going protests and an eviction notice from some hereditary Indigenous leaders.

Horgan told a news conference the project has received approval from 20 First Nations along the pipeline route.

Chief Na'moks of the Wet'suwet'en says all Coastal GasLink workers have been evicted from his territory. "This project is proceeding and the rule of law needs to prevail in B.C".

Wet'suwet'en First Nation issued an eviction notice on January 5 to Coastal GasLink for an area within their traditional territory near Houston, B.C.

At an earlier meeting with RCMP, the chiefs also delivered directives to Mounties, including stating that police should refrain from enforcing the injunction until they can engage in nation-to-nation talks with the provincial and federal governments over their rights and title to the area.

Coastal GasLink spokeswoman Suzanne Wilton says crews are on site and maintenance work is anticipated to take several hours.

While the RCMP did not respond to a request for comment, the release noted that police emphasized that the "primary concerns for the RCMP are public and officer safety" after officers on patrol last week found bags of gasoline-soaked rags, kindling and bottles containing fuels among stacks of tires along the forestry service road.

Those entering the area on the road are being stopped by police and given a copy of the court's injunction, as well as being informed about hazards and road conditions. Chiefs, government officials, accredited journalists and people delivering food and medicine would generally be given access, police said. "Our duty is to preserve the safety of everyone involved in this dispute, and to prevent further contraventions to the B.C. Supreme Court ordered injunction".

CGL says it wants a peaceful solution to the impasse, and has asked to meet with Wet'suwet'en opponents.

Indigenous business leaders and B.C. politicians are gathering in Vancouver on Tuesday to discuss the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Horgan's government adopted legislation late past year to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It mandates the government to bring provincial laws and policies into harmony with the declaration's aims of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. "Free, prior, and informed consent is not an enhanced consultation process, and states can not ignore the decisions made by Indigenous people through their own systems of governance and decision making that they have freely chosen for themselves".

While police met with the opposed hereditary chiefs, a letter from Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer indicates the company building the pipeline project has yet to meet with the opposed chiefs.

As the federal government rushes to write its own legislation based on that document, we're finding out this week's discussions could have major implications for the way resources are extracted and who benefits from such projects in Canada. "It's not retrospective. We believe it will open up opportunities not just for Indigenous people but for all British Columbians".

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