Kenney calls Wet’suwet’en rail shutdown ‘national economic crisis’ — blames ‘some angry fringe groups’
|Toronto Star 14 Feb 2020 at 21:20|
EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the widespread shutdown of Canadian rail operations this week is a full-blown economic crisis.
“Why?” he said to reporters in Edmonton on Friday. “Because some angry fringe groups are ignoring the democratically expressed wishes of every First Nation in northern British Columbia.”
“I think Canadians are losing patience with this,” he said. “I know Indigenous people are.”
This week has seen nationwide civil unrest in support of hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en, who are attempting to block the route of a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. Protesters have gathered in solidarity and shut down rail operations across the country.
Kenney said he’s heard from Alberta’s business community over the matter. The premier said if shipping crude oil by rail is affected, it could take 400,000 barrels of oil out of commission — costing the economy billions. But the “very serious threat” extends past Alberta’s borders, said Kenney, and affects farmers in Saskatchewan and manufacturing businesses in Ontario.
Asked at a news conference whether Justin Trudeau should get involved, Kenney would only say, “That’s for the prime minister to decide.”
But he added the situation is “not just a regional issue” and urged leaders from all levels of government to get involved if the situation gets worse.
“This has become a national economic crisis,” Kenney said.
While in Germany on Friday, Trudeau said the road ahead would be “fraught with challenges.”
“You need to know we have failed our Indigenous peoples over generations, over centuries. And there is no quick fix to it,” Trudeau said, adding that all parties must move toward reconciliation.
“We also are, obviously, a country of laws. And making sure that those laws are enforced, even as there is, of course, freedom to demonstrate and to protest,” he said. “Getting that balance right and wrapping it up in the path forward … is really important.”