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Trudeau says police are responsible for ending Wet’suwet’en protests, amid demands for him to return home

Trudeau says police are responsible for ending Wet’suwet’en protests, amid demands for him to return home
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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was up to police on the ground to end the blockades that have crippled the country.

“We are not the kind of country where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters. We have professional police forces right across the country,” he said in Germany on Friday.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on Friday called on Trudeau to act swiftly to end the protests and restore order.

Scheer said it was time for the federal government to get more involved in the protests including, if necessary, using the RCMP to end the blockades.

“It seems pretty simple to me. If you are a law enforcement agency, you should enforce the law,” he said. “We are talking about a large part of our economy, which is being held hostage.”

Several rail and road blockades have sprung up across the country this week in support of a protest against the Coastal Gas pipeline in northern British Columbia. The blockades of several rail lines led to CN’s decision Thursday to close its Eastern Canada rail network, stopping freight traffic and potentially leading to layoffs.

That has also forced the closure of Via Rail routes right across the country.

A snowplow is parked at a railway crossing as First Nations members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory block train tracks servicing Via Rail, as part of a protest against British Columbia’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, in Tyendinaga, Ontario, Canada February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Trudeau said Canada remained a country of the rule of law and his government would resolve the rail blockades that have crippled Canada’s railway networks.

“We are a country that recognizes the right to protest, but we are a country of the rule of law and we will ensure everything is done to resolve this,” he said.

Trudeau said his government was completely seized with the issue, but said it was up to police on the ground to decide how to enforce the law.

He said he supported people’s right to protest, but also they had to acknowledge the impacts the protests were having.

“This has been a really difficult week for Canadians; people having trouble getting to work, school or home, small business having trouble getting their goods to market, institutions like hospitals worried about resupply.”

He said he supported people’s right to protest, but also they had to acknowledge the impacts the protests were having.

“This has been a really difficult week for Canadians; people having trouble getting to work, school or home, small business having trouble getting their goods to market, institutions like hospitals worried about resupply.”

The prime minister is scheduled to return to Canada early on Saturday morning and then head to Barbados on Monday for a meeting of Caribbean nations, where he intends to continue to push for a seat on the UN Security Council.

He said for now that schedule remained unchanged.

Scheer said Trudeau should have returned to Canada sooner. He described Trudeau’s tour of Africa and Europe as part of the prime minister’s effort to get a Security Council seat as a “vanity project.”

“He is missing an opportunity to show leadership.”

Scheer said activists blocking intersections and rail lines need to “check their privilege” and stop standing in the way of resource development projects.

Scheer said many of the protestors were out of touch with First Nation’s communities. The Coastal Gas project had been supported by elected band councils in the area, but was opposed by hereditary chiefs.

“They are missing out on the fact that the elected band councils support this project,” he said. “If we want to respect First Nations’ will on this, we should be supporting Coastal Gas.”

Scheer said he respected the rights of Indigenous protestors and believed reconciliation was important, but he argued many of the activists were not connected to Indigenous communities, but were using the issue to target energy projects.

“This is just a warm up act for fights like TMX and Tech Frontier and the end their goal is to shut down our energy sector.”

Many of the blockades are being led by Indigenous groups, including one near Belleville, Ont., which is the major cause of CN’s railway network closure.

Blatchford died this morning in a Toronto hospital, where a circle of close friends and family kept a bedside vigil

She was instinctively kind, had an alert and well-exercised radar for the plight of the underdog, the little guy, the person or group never near the head tables of life

All of Toronto knew this was her story, but for just one day, it was mine

Christie Blatchford dead at 68: Here, we take a look back at some of her memorable, most recent contributions at the Post
Read more on National Post
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