Protesters in Vancouver are all braving the winter cold, dozens of people holding placards with inscriptions like “shut down Canada” and “stop the invasion.” Blocking traffic to stop the Coastal GasLink Pipeline, a C$6.6bn line that will connect British Columbia to the Pacific coast where a plant is in the works.
The main message the protesters advocate for is to save the Native American land, of which a quarter of the pipe will run through. In February police broke a blockade, and this has resulted in national unrest. Copy-cat demonstrations have popped up all over Canada.
The economic disruptions the protesters have achieved have had dire consequences. Canadian Railway had to shut down lines in the east and laid off 450 workers as a result. Via Rail did the same to 1000 workers. Transporting goods like food, fuel, commodities, and farming exports have all stopped. Bridges are blockaded, stopping cars and ships from doing business with America. The public is sick and tired and are going as far as to dismantle the blockades themselves.
The PM Justin Trudeau was notably absent for the first two weeks of the crisis; he was too busy lobbying for a seat in the UN Security Council. He later had to cancel a meeting in Barbados to attend crisis talks back at home. This crisis has been a bad look for the PM; he promised “reconciliation” with the native people “Canada’s most important,” he says. A year and counting and no special rules for them yet unveiled. He also promised to protect the environment, installing a pipeline which transports fossil fuel has upset that declaration of assurance.
It’s important to note that all the 20 Native American leaders along the Gas line, who have a say in the pipeline construction, have all signed off on the C$338m benefit agreement. Also included is a C$620m contract work for the Native people. Some Chiefs have disagreed with the line as it will not be a benefit to them, but as it does not run through their land it will be hard for them to stop it.The protesters who are mostly white middle-class could do more harm than good to the people they are trying to protect.