B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson (green jacket) visits Gitdumden blockade on Morice River Road, before RCMP moved in to enforce court order to clear the road for Coastal Gaslink crews. (Twitter)

B.C. MLA defends visit to LNG pipeline protest camp

Doug Donaldson is minister in charge of pipeline permits

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says his visit to a gas pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. was not to support people defying a court order, but an effort to ease tensions before police moved in to clear their roadblock.

Opposition MLAs began calling for Donaldson’s resignation after pictures of his visit appeared on social media Monday. Donaldson approached the protester checkpoint with a box of supplies and was allowed into the Gitmunden blockade camp.

“As MLA for Stikine, it is my responsibility to listen to the views of the people I represent,” Donaldson said in a statement late Monday. “I visited the check point on the invitation of my constituents and hereditary chiefs to hear their concerns and observe protocols. At the same time I am aware that the laws of Canada must be upheld and court injunctions must be followed.”

RCMP officers moved in Monday to enforce an interim injunction against blockades set up near the Morice River Bridge south of Houston in northwestern B.C. The Unist’ot’en camp, set up by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, has been blocking access by Coastal GasLink crews doing preparation for a pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas export terminal approved for Kitimat.

After a struggle with police in tactical gear cutting away a gate across the road Monday, protesters set a fire at the camp and 14 people were taken into custody.

RELATED: RCMP enforce pipeline injunction

RELATED: International protest network holding rallies

The project has been approved by Indigenous band councils all along the route, but opposition to all pipelines by some hereditary chiefs has been entrenched for several years, supported by anti-fossil fuel protesters from outside the region.

B.C. Liberal MLAs called for Donaldson to resign, arguing that as minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, he is responsible for issuing permits for the pipeline project and should not be supporting an illegal protest.

“First Nations communities across B.C. want economic development to address poverty and other issues, that’s why this project has the support of every elected band council along the route,” said Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, a former chief of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat. “What we keep seeing here are NDP ministers ignoring First Nations elected officials, because these communities don’t support the NDP activist agenda.”

Donaldson said his visit was to acknowledge the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, a foundation of constitutional rights and title for Indigenous people.

“This illustrates how these two systems of law are colliding and underlines the importance of the separate reconciliation process our government has undertaken with the office of the Wet’suwet’en,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fundraiser for teenager hit by car in Rosedale

Teen suffering multiple fractures and blood clots following incident on Yale Road

Vedder River cleanup nets bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Hikers alert after woman approached by suspicious man in Harrison Mills

The woman and her family were hiking in the wetlands between Rowena’s Inn and Sts’ailes First Nation

Chilliwack International Spring Film Series returns to Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Put a spring in your step with the Chilliwack International Spring Film Series’ feature titles

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

Film crews descend on Agassiz for ‘Republic of Sarah’

Pioneer Avenue will be closed to traffic Monday and Tuesday

Sentencing begins for indecent caller

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Most Read