BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
By now we have all seen photos and videos of the activist blockade at the entrances to the British Columbia legislature as part of ongoing demonstrations against the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
We are elected, in all parties, by you, the people and we take the role we play in democracy seriously. Whether it’s considering and voting on legislation, attending committee and caucus meetings, the important work that is done in constituencies, or representing Canadians abroad, rarely have we not been able to fulfill these responsibilities. It is our duty as the people’s representatives to be there and to be a strong voice for those we represent.
It is shameful that elected officials, representing millions, were prevented from fulfilling their duties in Victoria. The work that is done in buildings like the BC legislature is a vital part of our democracy and to deny these officials the ability to do the work they were elected to do is alarming to say the least.
Blockades have also been set up on Canada’s transportation corridors, blocking our national economy and holding thousands of jobs that rely on these corridors hostage.
The fact remains that consultations were conducted and the majority of the Wet’suwet’en people support the project and believe the project will benefit their First Nations. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements will all 20 elected First Nations governments along the pipeline’s path, including five of the six band councils in the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
While attending the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George I had the opportunity to stand with Wet’suwet’en leaders at the North Matters rally as they once again voiced their support for the Coastal GasLink project and LNG Canada.
According to Hereditary Chief Theresa Tait-Day of Wet’suwet’en Nation, 85 per cent of the nation supports the project. She is also quoted in a court affidavit as saying: “A few House Chiefs cannot make decisions for our nation. Everyone in our nation is equal and has a voice that deserves to be heard.”
Wet’suwet’en leaders have also highlighted in the media that many of these protesters are not from the region, the community, or even our country. Siding with a small group of activists because they happen to align with one’s views and insisting that the RCMP enforce these views against the will of the majority of Wet’suwet’en contradicts the spirit of reconciliation.
While I appreciate that people have the right to protest peacefully, it must be done in a safe and responsible manner.
Setting up blockades on highways and railways is not only illegal, it’s dangerous.
Blocking elected officials from carrying out their duties on behalf of their constituents goes against everything we are as a democracy.
The rule of law in Canada isn’t supposed to be optional.