VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – After days of protests and a contentious stand-off near the site of pipeline construction in northern B.C., the premier is finally weighing in.
John Horgan says there is no quick fix to what’s happening near Smithers.
“I know people would prefer to have ‘what’s the answer, yes or no’ but there isn’t one,” Horgan told reporters at a press conference in Victoria on Wednesday. “And I know that all of you here who have been covering these issues for a long, long time understand that every circumstance is different.”
If it were simple, it would have been solved a long time ago, added the premier.
He says he shared his feelings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We need to work together,” Horgan added. “The federal government understand that British Columbia is unique in Canada. We have unceded territory in every corner of the province, we have court ruling after court ruling that has affirmed we need to find a better way forward.”
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Horgan said the government needs to find a way through reconciliation to bring together the various orders of government, noting the old Indian Act management style still exists.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation say the camp where police have been hovering was established almost a decade ago as a checkpoint to manage entry to traditional territories, but a court-ordered injunction issued late last year ordered the removal of gates across the forest service road.
Trudeau is in Kamloops on Wednesday for a Liberal fundraiser, after which he’ll have separate meetings with local and Indigenous leaders.
On Wednesday evening Trudeau will take part in a town hall meeting where he will take questions from the public.
Kitimat mayor concerned
Meanwhile, the mayor of Kitimat has concerns about what the ongoing protests in that community could mean for the future of the LNG Canada project.
Mayor Phil Germuth said the fact hereditary chiefs oppose this pipeline despite the elected council backing it makes this particularly challenging.
“That’s obviously very complicated and that’s something that eventually is going to have to be figured out,” Germuth added. “You know every single elected board albeit First Nations or non-First Nations right from Kitimat all the way to Dawson Creek in Port Saint John are n favour of this project.”
Germuth said he’s disappointed in this development given the elected council in this community actually supports the pipeline project.
“There’s obvious concern, let’s be realistic. And of course, without a pipeline, there is no LNG facility without the pipeline so it’s obviously a concern.”
Germuth argued the LNG Canada project will actually be a net positive for pollution if it means Asian countries switch to natural gas and away from coal.
-With files from Martin MacMahon