Ottawa, Feb 25 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated a call for a “peaceful resolution” after the Ontario Provincial Police began dismantling an Indigenous rail blockade.
“We’re still on the path to reconciliation, we needed a peaceful resolution and we’re continuing to work towards that,” Trudeau said on Monday just hours after several people were arrested at the blockade site following a midnight deadline Sunday.
The blockades next to the rail tracks were erected nearly three weeks ago by supporters of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs who are against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en Firstnation land, reports Xinhua news agency.
The pipeline has the support of elected band councils, but some Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs said they have not consented to the project.
The Wet’suwet’en First Nation supporters remained at the blockade despite a midnight deadline issued by the police on Sunday to clear the area.
The blockade, which has been in place since February 6, essentially shut down freight and passenger rail service going through a major rail corridor, resulting in the temporary layoff of nearly 1,500 rail workers.
There has been mounting worries to resume rail service and increasing concerns about the public and economic impact of the blockade, including risks of a nationwide shortage of chlorine, used to treat municipal drinking water, and propane, used to heat homes and other facilities.
As the police action continues in Tyendinaga, Canadian opposition leaders have also been weighing in on the issue.
Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau’s weakness over the last few weeks has sent a signal to businesses across Canada that the rule of law will not be upheld, court injunctions will not be enforced, and major projects cannot get built.
“The fact that he (Trudeau) has done literally nothing for 19 days while illegal blockades have brought our economy to its knees sends a very strong signal to proponents in the energy sector that this government will not uphold the rule of law, and that they will be on their own,” Scheer said.
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh expressed his concern about the police action.
“I’ve been really concerned about the idea that police intervention will de-escalate this national crisis, because it won’t. It’s not the solution,” Singh said.
Also on Monday, hundreds of protesters also took to the streets in Ottawa to demonstrate their solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, shutting down streets near Parliament Hill.