Millroy: I thought there was such a thing as the rule of law in this country

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By the time you got to read  this, I was hopeful that the barricades that have been erected across the country in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in B.C., who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline that would run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat, B.C., would be down and negotiations to bring a permanent end to this sorry mess begun.

But it didn’t happen, the protests even coming to our backyard, traffic on Huron Street near the International Bridge being rerouted by police because of protesters.

Watching police directing traffic around the blockade instead of clearing a path, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would be as considerate to any other group that might have an axe to grind. Whatever the case, I feel it necessary to provide my point of view, to let you know where I stand on the barricade and blockade issue..

I, like the vast majority of Canadians, am all for protecting the environment. I am all for alternative fuels to relieve us from our dependence on oil and gas and, to a much lesser degree, coal.

But we are not there yet and won’t be for some time.

That being the case, I support the pipeline project at issue and any others proposed or in the works. Seeing some of the conflagrations that have resulted from transport by rail, which is the main alternative for moving oil and gas, surely all but those who say we shouldn’t be using oil, gas or coal at all would agree.

In regard to the GasLink pipeline, according to news reports all 20 elected band councils along the route have signed benefits agreements with the company. The Haisla Nation in Kitimat is among them and Chief Crystal Smith said the project will help the community become less reliant on meagre federal funding.

But the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation say they, not the elected band councils, are in charge of the traditional lands, which are not in reserves and which are, from what I can ascertain, nowhere near as populated.

Yet it is the Wet’suwet’en who have brought unrest to the country, initially camping out in an attempt to block the pipeline, then putting up barricades on roadways and following this up with a plea for support across the country.

“Stand up and fight back with us,” Molly Wickham, a spokeswoman for one of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s five clans, Gidimt’en, said in a grainy video posted to Facebook.
“Shut down Canada. Do whatever you can do.”

Shut down Canada? She lost me there. Nobody should be advocating the shutdown of their country.

Yet many Canadians in many areas answered her plea and their efforts culminated in a level of disruption that was impossible to ignore, rail lines blocked to the point that CN Rail was forced to temporarily shut down all of its operations east of Toronto. Via Rail, which uses CN’s tracks, cancelled passenger-train service across the country.

And all this time I thought there was such a thing as the rule of law in this country.

People have a right to protest but it should be a peaceful protest. It should not be designed, as this one became, to get others involved in their cause in a way that would cause harm, in this case financial harm, to many who have no stake in the matter.

In a strange twist on Vancouver Island, it turned out that it was legal to put up a barricade on a highway but it was illegal to take it down.

Demonstrators opposed to the pipeline erected barriers at Exit 117 of Highway 19 near Courtenay in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

But the group was met by another group of residents, several wearing masks, who repeatedly pulled the barricades down as police attempted to keep the groups apart.
RCMP eventually arrested one of the residents for obstruction after he attempted to pull down a barricade.

An officer at the scene told the group of residents RCMP couldn’t clear the protesters’ blockade without direction from their supervisors.

Maybe RCMP couldn’t but why should that stop residents from doing it. After all, this barricade consisted of old tires, pallets and other material that could best be described as debris.

As I watched the CBC program at issue, one panellist said there were suggestions that barricades be taken down as soon as they go up. He said this could lead to problems.
I am with those who suggest they should be taken down immediately. If they aren’t, you allow protesters to get a toehold and soon they are in up to their ankles and then you have more than a problem, you have a crisis, which is where we are today.

Actually, the pipeline has the support of the courts. The Supreme Court of British Columbia in January ruled that Indigenous law is not necessarily Canadian law in a decision that allowed construction work to continue on the $6.6-billion pipeline despite Wet’suwet’en opposition.
Church, citing irreparable harm to GasLink, granted both an interlocutory injunction and an enforcement order, which provided “a mandate to the RCMP to enforce the terms of the order.”

As of this writing, news reports said the federal government has committed to dialogue with First Nations to end the series of anti-pipeline protests that have sprung up on railways, bridges and highways across Canada.

However, they also indicate business leaders are increasing pressure on the government for a quick resolution and warn of mounting economic damage as the country’s rail network has come to a standstill across Eastern Canada.

But the business leaders don’t give any idea as to what they see as a quick resolution.
Is it to follow the rule of law, the injunction laid down by the B.C. Supreme Court, or is it to give in, therefore closing down the pipeline?

Should the demands of people who got their titles from their forebears really be given preference over those duly elected by band members.

I say no and am surprised so many Canadians have gone along with it so wholeheartedly.
But then we know some will join a protest over anything. .

39 COMMENTS

  1. The terrorism now occuring at blockades will put back reconciliation decades and only causes further wedge of hate between peoples and increase of racism from both sides of equation . How can they not see that ?

  2. It seems rather foolish to me that the First Nation people are trying to ” Shut Down Canada ” They need Federal Help to improve their water systems and Infrastructure and cutting down on Federal Revenues will not get them the help they need. Perhaps they will stop their blockades if the Feds cut off their funds to the First Nations people.

  3. Maybe the First Nations would rather have thousands of Oil Trucks running thru their property. The pipeline is safer than the trucks. Our Economy needs to get the oil to Vancouver. A robust economy with oil getting to Vancouver would help the first nations get their money from the Feds too.

  4. When Justin Trudeau’s father had trouble with the F.L.Q. in Quebec he had about 700 arrested overnight and the F.L.Q. revolt was stopped dead in it’s tracks. They were Pierre Trudeau’s own people of Quebec but he stopped them cold. Justin is trying to negotiate with people who do not want to negotiate. The time to allow this to happen has long past The Rule of Law must prevail for all Canadians and that includes the First Nation rebels. Let’s see some action Justin !

  5. We are all subject to the law – period. Any support or understanding for First Nations grievances that I might have had has now disappeared as a result of these terrorist tactics. If the FN can’t get their own house in order to reconcile differences between their elected vs hereditary chiefs, how do they expect other Canadians to spoonfeed them into maturity and reconciliation. Act like responsible adults and you will be treated as such. Meanwhile, do not try to destroy the country that is paying your bills.

  6. ter·ror·ist /ˈterərəst/ noun plural noun: terrorists
    a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political or religious aims.
    How close are we rignt now?? People need to pay attention to this, on both sides. Is this what we want for Canada right now? Really??

  7. ‘Slavery’ was the ‘rule of law’. ‘Women not being allowed to vote’ was the ‘rule of law’. When injustice is THE RULE OF LAW it needs to be changed. I stand with FN’s !

  8. “But we are not there yet and won’t be for some time.” -regarding new technologies to replace oil. Ppfftt, THEY KNEW 40 years ago carbon fuels were poison..Where were YOU, Doug Milroy, you blowhard, to warn us? Probably voted for that POS Ford, too..didn’t ya?

  9. I am, to say the least, disappointed in the racist comments that keep appearing regarding this situation. How many of you have actually taken time to read up on the Costal Gas Link project. We have our own situation in front of us with the Ferrochrome smelter being pushed for Sault Ste Marie. Think about that when you make your uneducated remarks. We will be facing the same types of opposition right here in our city. And it won’t be about the colour of our skin. We will stand together.
    I find it difficult to take a side when I find conflicting opinions out there. There are many news articles written about the pipeline and people need to know what is actually going on. I am one of those people.

    I want to know more about what the actual protest is about. Is it about clean water, land, oppression? It is very hard to take a stand on one side or another when you hear different opinions from different groups. I get the environmental protection aspect and totally agree with protecting our future. I would really like to hear from someone in the know. If protest are meant to educate people, why are we not hearing any substantial arguments. If you hold a peaceful protest, please have someone present who can articulate the unaddressed concerns, in a calm, non profane manner. I don’t believe that there were no consultations held or agreements made, with those involved prior to construction commencement.

    I read about the pipeline and I find articles like these ones.

    https://nationalpost.com/news/local-news/wetsuweten-members-speak-in-favour-of-coastal-gaslink-pipeline/wcm/e609fc08-e994-4676-baf3-fbb35c4199fc?video_autoplay=true

    https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/how-first-nations-benefit-from-pipeline-construction_0.pdf

    https://globalnews.ca/news/6582688/coastal-gaslink-environment-certificate/

    • And if you parked your car across the entrance to the bridge and put up a sign protesting the ferrochrome plant, there would be a police car and a tow truck there in about 10 minutes to tow your car and arrest you. That’s what this is about. The Rule of Law not being applied equitably.

  10. I don’t care about people with their backs against the wall, without law it’s anarchy. First nation need to obey the law just every Canadian. Your right of freedom to protest does not stop my freedom of movement. Obey the law and people will respect you. Did you ever think of that?? I spend my working life helping first nation people, but to see “some” behave like this gives me greater insight into why they have these issues. Shameful

    • They tried for two hundred years to play nice.

      They’ve been drinking lead tainted water for how long? Boil advisories all over.

      They pay 2-5 times as much for EVERYTHING. The rest of Canada is telling them that *despite multiple other pipeline paths available*, the only way we can have it is if we pass it through ecologically and culturally important sites.

      All they’re doing is blocking roads.

      If this was white Canadians, there would be bloodshed after everything we’ve done to them.

    • Dee Moulton I don’t care for law breakers, clearly I care for first nation by my action over decades. Bryan Schmidt all those points are true and PATHETIC that we as a society have allowed. Question though, tell me any culture that continues to blame others for their life problems that fixed them? How well has this been working for natives? How well has this been working for blacks? The only way to fix it that has been proven in history over and over again is to look inward and fix the problem YOURSELF. Disrupting innocent people’s lives worked so well for terriost don’t they? That’s the road being laid right now. It’s not protesting, these people are terrorist.

    • Meaghan MacDonald-Gaughan prove this and… how many have changed going through proper channels? Wait, let me answer that, proper channels. Also, if what are you suggesting is true, why hasn’t it worked for first nation people? Wait, let me answer that. It’s because if you keep going down a dead end road, you are never going to reach your destination. Change you ways, or stay the same. This way of protesting only ends in violence and disaster. History has proven that.

    • Robb Weir it’s easy to point at a people you’ve got under your boot, and place the blame on them.

      They live in horrible places, with unsafe water and expensive goods. If they leave to improve themselves, they lose their rights.

      It’s oppression, and trying to convince yourself it isn’t just that is as immoral as if it was your boot on their necks.

    • Robb Weir women’s suffrage would not have happened without protests, gay rights would not have happened without protests, civil rights woud not have happened without protests, workers rights would not have happened without protests….most societal changes happen because of protests both legal and illegal. The powers that be will ignore, laugh at, sneer at and generally just carry on as they have always done until they are pushed and prodded into change.

    • I’m not saying anything about that, in fact I agree with you. Hearing real life stories from first nation people for decades and helping some of them get the holistic help they need has shown me this. I’m all for fresh clean and DRINKABLE water for everyone in Canada. We’ve all watched in horror how this type of protest ends. That is all I’m talking about not the PATHETIC and inhumane conditions that “some” live in. Remember, NOT ALL FIRST NATIONS live like this, just like everyone else in Canada, we all have the well off and withouts.

    • Karen McPhee Grant #metomovement legal protest, law makers and government change. Gay rights, legal protest, law makers and government change. The powers that be have been voted in by a majority, want change, vote out. Democratic way, not these people way.

    • If you think that all those protests were legal, you have a short memory….especially the gay rights ones you mention. The voting rights ones were not legal both for women’s suffrage and civil rights. When successive governments from both sides of the aisle break promises and/or just ignore you, you just keep on doing what hasn’t worked in decades or centuries?? Do you know how manty women were arrested, beaten and even killed for women’s suffrage? How many blacks (and their white supporters suffered the same way) ? Anti-war protesters? There has NEVER been great societal change by being polite and saying please.

    • Bryan Schmidt and how is it working for them by protesting this way? This is my point. Im not disagreeing with anything BUT being illegal. That’s it, that’s all.

  11. Blame. Blame Blame. Everybody play the blame. Problem with your argument is democratically elected leaders of the Wet’suwet’en approved the forward and economic benefits to their constituents. Sorry but here in 2020 the opportunity to break the yoke of oppression is here yet a small minority are all too willing to keep their own people down. How progressive.

  12. Wet’suwet’en land was never ceded to Canada, therefore the courts have no say. Also, the hereditary chiefs offed a compromise to GasLink to run the pipeline through a different area of Wet’suwet’en land and GasLink refused. Cost being one of the reasons. Well, what’s it costing the entire country now? If you want to blame anybody for the issues at hand, blame GasLink.

  13. Those are people with their backs against a wall, looking at the restriction of everything they hold sacred.

    But white people are being inconvenienced, so screw them, right? Screwing the First Nations is a Canadian tradition, after all.

    • Bryan, I’ve read your various comments many times now. I appreciate your passion and you disappoint me with your racism.
      Yes the First Nations people have suffered in many ways, however the issue isn’t as straightfoward as your opinion forces the perspective to be. In university during my constitutional law classes we looked at various treaties many times and at tribes that didn’t form treaties.
      The Anishinaabe regrettably have never been on the same page, even going back 200-300 years as history evidences.
      Some tribes were pro deals & working with the government, some were con. Then you have the concept of greed and corruption within their ranks – such as millions of dollars squandered on money losing casinos, or money embezzled by chiefs that were earmarked for drinking water & infrastructure improvements.
      Then we come to their own internal leadership – they have elected chiefs, hereditary chiefs. Some recognized, some not recognized. Some are recognized when they make the “right decisions” for their people but when those decisions suddenly become “wrong decisions” then those same chiefs are just as suddenly not recognized.
      Then there’s the issue of who carries ultimate authority, elected or hereditary chiefs?
      I feel bad for regular members of the Anishinaabe, because they don’t stand a chance with their own inept leadership (not dissimilar to that of other Canadians).
      However, the open racism such as yours placing blame non-native agents of change who you claim are just ‘white people screwing over non-white people’ is hurtful, harmful and a HUGE factor against Anishinaabe because it only serves to create more division and polarization.
      Your harmful comments need to end along with the other racist comments. If we’re to work as a team to overcome the hurdles of the past then we need to stop this useless finger pointing and insult game.
      Threatening and taking action to “Shut Down Canada” is harmful, wrong, counter productive, illegal pseudo-terrorist and only serves to push the Anishinaabe cause further back.

  14. NO group should be allowed to infringe on the basic CANADIAN rights of others. Protests that affect the daily lives of others have to be stopped NOW…not days later. Until we have a PM with gonads…this will be an ongoing problem.

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