In what was likely an unprecedented day in Victoria protestors blocked access to the Legislature today shortly before the government was scheduled to read the Throne Speech. Several MLAs and Legislature staff were blocked from entering by protestors who are supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their fight against the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project from Dawson Creek to Kitimat.
Premier John Horgan issued the following statement about the protests.
“British Columbians have the right to peaceful protest. We support people in the exercise of their democratic rights – within the law.
“That said, I understand the frustration of people who have been unable to go to work today, who have been unable to enter government buildings or have been unable to get around in their communities.
“My government, represented by Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, met on an urgent basis for two days in February in an effort to find a peaceful resolution to the impasse regarding the Coastal GasLink project. Regrettably, the talks were unsuccessful.
“My government continues to be available to engage with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs through the Wiggus Table discussions. We are also engaged in ongoing reconciliation discussions, which are focused on rights, title, self-government and self-determination. Those channels of communication remain open.
“These events show us why meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is our shared responsibility and is critical to our province and our country. This was a commitment my government made in good faith two and a half years ago, and as premier, I am determined to see it through.
“The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed the legislature with a unanimous vote. Our work here has not ended – it has just begun.
“Reconciliation is hard work. It does not begin or end with a single decision, event or moment. No single one of us decides what reconciliation can or should look like. It is a shared journey we are on together.
“We know that this work isn’t easy. If we’re going to achieve it, we have to stay committed to this process, keep engaging with one another and find common ground.
“As we move towards a collaborative action plan flowing from the unanimous passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, I am confident we will get there together.”
Nechako Lake MLA John Rustad had to push his way through the crowd to get into the Legislature and posted on Facebook that he supports the right of people to protest, but adds that does not include the right to impact the rights of others.
Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris panned Horgan’s statement for not expressing concern for legislative staff.
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond tweeted that pushing and shoving people on their way to work should not be tolerated and lambasted Premier John Horgan for cancelling a scheduled press conference this afternoon.
Actually, shoving, yelling in people’s faces and intimidating people on their way to work shouldn’t be tolerated. Express your views, do it respectfully and people will listen. Not when they are pushed, shoved and frightened! https://t.co/yo1ThBFPPL— Shirley Bond (@shirleybond) February 12, 2020
And time for British Columbians to hear from @jjhorgan, the Premier. Now is the time for leadership, not cancelling media interviews and telling the media to wait until “further notice”. British Columbians deserve some answers! https://t.co/5DaNxVAp4B— Shirley Bond (@shirleybond) February 12, 2020