Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said pipeline protesters standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs need to “check their privilege” and stand down.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Friday, Scheer expressed frustration with the ongoing demonstrations against construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which have caused blockades across the country at government legislatures and major rail crossings.
The Canadian National Railway (CN Rail) announced Thursday it was shutting down its eastern freight network. Via Rail also cancelled all service on tracks across Canada.
“These protesters, these activists, may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege, they need to check their privilege and let people whose job depends on the railway system – small business, farmers – do their job,” said Scheer.
He said the blockades are “illegal” and should be shut down by law enforcement.
“We have court orders, we have court injunctions and they need to be respected. I’m calling for an end to the blockades,” he said. “As prime minister I would direct the RCMP to enforce the law to ensure that our railway system can operate.”
Scheer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “running around” trying to secure a seat for the United Nations Security Council and not prioritizing the situation at home. Trudeau is on an eight-day tour of Africa and Europe to drum up support for Canada’s spot at the table.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau also weighed in on the escalating protests on Friday morning, stating that the rule of law must be followed but that the government would balance this approach with a path towards reconciliation.
“Clearly this is a difficult time, and there is work ahead of us but I can assure you the Government of Canada is committed to working on these matters in a manner consistent with its broader commitments to reconciliation. We also are a country that is a proud democracy that believes in the rule of law,” said Garneau.
More to come…