Former Mississauga mayor criticizes federal government over response to blockades

 

Former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, who once endorsed Justin Trudeau for prime minister, is now calling for action over the blockades that have been going on for weeks in protest of a natural gas pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

McCallion was attending a dinner celebration of her 99th birthday at the Emerald Chinese restaurant over the weekend and during a speech to the crowd, the former chief magistrate had some choice words for the way Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has handled the blockade and the impact on local businesses.

Canada is a country based on the law and that law should be followed. We (municipal people) have to make sure citizens follow the law,” McCallion said, referencing examples such as the enforcement of parking violations in cities. 

Trudeau has to take a much stronger stance so people can get back to work. People in Quebec are going to be short of propane, it’s kind of cold down there,” she added, adding concerns for the overall economic impacts of the blockades, which have lasted for over two weeks.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford had also called for the “illegal” blockades to be removed:

The blockade on the rail line and various protests have been in reaction to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project, which would run through the land of the Wet’suwet’en people. Even though the majority of band councillors support the project, the hereditary chiefs withheld their approval on ecological grounds.

Last week, Trudeau said the blockades should come down and the injunctions to clear the rail lines must be enforced. As of this writing, the Ontario Provincial Police have moved against the rail blockade outside of Belleville, where protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga had been set up. 

Following its court-endorsed framework for Police Preparedness for Indigenous Critical Incidents, the OPP Provincial Liaison Team has engaged in significant collaborative and respectful dialogue aimed at bringing about a peaceful resolution while ensuring everyone’s safety and preserving their respective rights guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To date, there had been no arrests made and no one has been injured,” the OPP said in a Feb. 24 statement.

We have remained respectful of the ongoing dialogue, including issues of sovereignty between our Indigenous communities and various federal ministers, and have hoped for productive communication leading to a peaceful resolution. The OPP notes the broader societal impacts of this extended protest have correspondingly increased risks to public safety closer to the protest sites. Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect.

The OPP says it has a legal responsibility to enforce the injunction and began doing so this morning. The OPP says it has called upon all those involved to abide by the injunction and leave the area and not put public peace or anyone’s safety in jeopardy. The OPP says enforcement of the injunction may include the arrest of those who choose not to comply, however, use of force remains a last resort.

VIA rail had already announced the layoff of 1,000 employees due to the protests.

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