Prime Minister Trudeau’s “town hall” meeting in Kamloops on January 9, 2019, saw him face tough questions about his government’s relations with Indigenous peoples, pipelines, and the recent RCMP assault on the Unist’ot’en camp.
Divided by a snowy city street and conflicting views, protesters on both sides of the pipeline debate in B.C. directed their ire at a shared target on Wednesday: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As Trudeau arrived in Kamloops, B.C., for a campaign-style visit and town hall, some protesters donned yellow vests and carried signs that read “Carbon Tax Cash Grab” and “Trudeau for Treason,” expressing concern that a failure to follow through with planned pipeline projects would cost Canadians their jobs.
Others worried that Trudeau was shirking his promises to protect the environment and reconcile with Indigenous groups.
“We are here to support our land, our resources, our water,” Edna Terbasket, an anti-pipeline protester and member of the Syilx/Okanagan First Nation, told CTV News. “We can’t drink the oil.”
In a speech to supporters, Trudeau lauded the pipeline project that has been at the heart of escalating standoffs and blockades in the province: the Coastal GasLink pipeline that will transport natural gas across B.C.’s north to a $40-billion coastal terminal in Kitimat operated by LNG Canada.
Later, at a town hall event in Kamloops, Trudeau was faced with mostly positive questions from the crowd. But a few people expressed their outrage.
Earlier this week, the RCMP enforced a court-ordered injunction on a group of protesters from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who tried to stop pipeline workers from accessing a forest service road near Houston, B.C.
The pipeline company says it has signed agreements with elected First Nations leaders across the pipeline’s route, but some of the hereditary and non-elected leaders of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation say that those contracts are invalid because they have not given their consent.
The RCMP arrested 14 people on Monday, sparking solidarity protests across Canada.
Another woman at the meeting demanded that Trudeau apologize for the recent treatment of the Indigenous communities in northern B.C.
Trudeau said he “understands their anger and frustration” and acknowledged that the relationship with Indigenous people has been broken but he also said there has been real progress recently.
Molly Wickham, who was arrested earlier this week, described the experience as “traumatic.”
“They didn’t care what happened,” she said. “They didn’t care who it was.”
Despite the support from protesters, the hereditary chiefs announced Wednesday that they will comply with the injunction to avoid further violence.
Trudeau confirmed at the town hall that the blockade had been removed Wednesday afternoon.
Trudeau’s visit to Kamloops marks the start of an outreach tour that will expand across the country ahead of the federal election.
Indigenous people voiced their anger and frustration with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday at a chaotic town hall in Kamloops, B.C., loudly interrupting him to condemn the arrests of protesters at a pipeline blockade.
While Trudeau was answering a question on accountability for the oil and gas industry, a man who identified himself as Will George stood up and began to yell that the prime minister had lied about wanting reconciliation with First Nations.
“You’re getting people arrested,” George said. “You’re a liar and a weak leader. What do you tell your children?”
Trudeau calmly asked George, several times, to sit down and allow him to finish answering the question. After several minutes, the man apologized and sat down, to applause from the crowd.
RCMP arrested 14 people Monday at a pipeline blockade in northwestern B.C., sparking protests across the country. Demonstrators on both sides of the pipeline debate appeared at Trudeau’s events in Kamloops on Wednesday.
Trudeau fielded a variety of questions at the town hall, but his fiery exchanges with Indigenous people dominated the event. When he called on a First Nations woman in the crowd, she asked him what he would do to stop oppressing her people.
“When are you going to give us our rights back?” she asked, to cheers and applause.
The prime minister replied that Canada has a “long and terrible history” with regards to First Nations, but his government is working toward reconciliation and met with Indigenous leaders to discuss self-governance on Tuesday.
“It will take time to improve (the relationship), but we are making significant progress,” he said.
“You are afraid to lose everything you benefit from our oppression and our suffering. You are afraid to lose your comfort,” the woman yelled.
“No, I’m not,” Trudeau replied. “I am ready to walk in partnership with you and building the future and that is what we’ve been doing … I understand the anger and the passion that you have about protecting your land.”
After a lengthy exchange in which the woman continued to press him on how he allowed the arrests to happen, Trudeau said it was possible the woman was “not listening” to him and he tried to move on. Members of the crowd continued to occasionally yell, with one crying out, “Shame on you!”
Later, a man who identified himself as Arnie Jack from the Shuswap Nation said Canada does not have a deed to its territory and has no right to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through its lands.
Jack described the arrests in northern B.C. as a “national disgrace.”
“Do you have a deed to Shuswap territory? Have you brought one here tonight to impose your jurisdiction on us?” Jack asked.
“No, I did not,” Trudeau said, adding that having a “deed” is an old way of doing things and instead he wants to move forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
Several audience members raised concerns about climate change, including a 65-year-old woman concerned about her grandson’s future. She said she had spoken with environmentalist David Suzuki, who was critical of the Liberal government’s handling of the climate.
“There is no question we’re in a time of difficult change,” Trudeau replied, but he added that his government is moving forward with a price on carbon and there are tremendous causes for optimism, and that’s where he disagrees with Suzuki.
“I’m just a little more optimistic than he is,” Trudeau said.
Speaking to supporters at an earlier Kamloops event, Trudeau touted the benefits of the $40-billion liquefied natural gas project at the centre of the impasse with First Nations.
In a campaign-style speech at the Liberal fundraiser, Trudeau did not address Monday’s arrests at a protest against construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink, which is a key part of the LNG Canada project. He instead heralded the massive project as one of his government’s top achievements.
“We moved forward on the LNG Canada project, which is the largest private sector investment in Canada’s history, $40 billion, which is going to produce Canadian LNG that will supplant coal in Asia as a power source and do much for the environment,” he said.
The RCMP enforced a B.C. Supreme Court injunction on Monday that ordered the removal of any obstructions to the pipeline project in and around the Morice River Bridge on a remote forest service road southwest of Houston.
The pipeline company says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route but demonstrators say Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given their consent.
Trudeau also told Radio NL that “we’re going to have to do a better job” of dealing with First Nations rights and title.
“There’s still work to be done right across the country in terms of having the opportunity for Indigenous communities to strengthen their governance models,” he said.
Dozens of protesters on both sides of the debate gathered outside the hotel where the fundraiser was held.
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests carried signs that read “Carbon Tax Cash Grab” and “Trudeau for Treason” while taking part in a chant opposing a United Nations pact on migration signed by Canada. Conservative critics argue it threatens Canada’s sovereignty.
Keith LaRiviere, who is Cree and participated in the yellow-vest protest, said he knows some of the people involved in the pipeline blockade.
He said he supports their right to protest but he believes those building the pipeline also have the right to do their work.
“I go to sweat lodges with some of those people so I really know them intimately, and I do support their cause. I do support their right to their land. I don’t support the aggressive way they were forced out of their position,” said LaRiviere.
On the other side of the hotel parking lot, a group of Indigenous protesters opposed to the pipeline sang, drummed and held a banner reading “PM Trudeau: Canada needs climate action now.”
‘Be a man!’: Indigenous protesters assail Justin Trudeau at B.C. town hall
, Global News, Jan 10, 2019
“I don’t want to see your crocodile tears!”
That was one of a number of comments with which Indigenous protesters confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a town hall at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, B.C. on Tuesday night.
The town hall came in the same week that 14 people were arrested in the province’s northwest as they protested the construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink that’s a key piece of infrastructure for the LNG Canada project.
The arrests came Monday, on the same day that Mounties enforced a B.C. Supreme Court injunction requiring that any obstructions to the project be removed near a bridge on a forest service road that runs south of Houston.
Further developments came Wednesday, as hereditary chiefs with the Wet’suwet’en people said they would open a checkpoint gate they had erected at what’s known as the Unist’ot’en Camp, a longstanding structure aimed at preventing the pipeline’s construction.
Trudeau largely seemed to address a friendly audience — questions included, “What’s your favourite part of your day?” — before frustrations over pipelines, and the federal government’s approach to climate change and First Nations, started to boil over.
First to assail Trudeau was Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
“You lied about being a climate leader. You don’t build pipelines by being a climate leader,” George said.
“You want truth and reconciliation with First Nations and you get our people arrested.”
Trudeau, who was answering a question about oil and gas emissions, asked George to “please respect” an audience member’s ability to ask a question. But George continued.
“You’re a liar and a weak leader. What do you tell your children? Pipelines do not make climate leaders,” he said.
“I apologize to you, I’m not going to listen to your lies anymore, you’re a weak leader and a liar and you’re not welcome here.”
Trudeau later faced a question from a woman named Tilly, who identified herself as a member of the Stl’atl’imx Nation.
“What are you going to do to stop oppressing and holding our people under your colonization,” she asked.
Trudeau responded that Canada has a “long and failed history in regards to Indigenous people,” saying it has “consistently failed as a country to live up to the spirit and intent of the treaties.”
“We have not treated Indigenous peoples as partners and stewards of this land.”
Trudeau said the federal government is focusing mainly on two areas when it comes to Indigenous peoples: services and relationships.
He started talking about how “too many Indigenous communities are existing under boil water advisories” when Tilly interjected.
“You are afraid to lose your comfort,” she said.
“No I’m not, Tilly,” Trudeau responded.
“I am ready to work in partnership with you and that is what we have been doing with you over the last three years.”
The pair continued to exchange words, with Tilly saying, “I don’t want to see your crocodile tears, I don’t want to see you apologize.”
She said she wanted “amends,” that she demanded it “on behalf of my people.”
Another protester yelled out, “be a man! Be a man!”
He went on to say that no one checked with Indigenous people when Canada’s railroads were laid down.
“Nobody checked with the people who had lived here for millennia, whether or not we could throw a railroad down in a given place,” Trudeau said.
“That is not how we will continue to do things.”