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Daily disruptions could waver public support for Wet'suwet'en over time: expert

Last Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 3:05 pm PDT

Protesters block the road access to one of Vancouver's port entrances in Vancouver Sunday, February 9, 2020. The protesters who are standing in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en members opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia are on day 4 of blocking the main ports in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

A sociology professor says it isn't clear how long public support will last for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs

Protesters have shut down ports, disrupted traffic in Vancouver, and has started to make waves

Public demonstrations disrupting people's everyday lives could impact long-term support

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As demonstrations continue in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are against an LNG pipeline in north-central B.C., a sociology professor says it’s not clear how much longer people will take daily disruptions.

Protesters have shut down ports, disrupted traffic in Vancouver, and has started to make waves in different parts of Canada. It led to a number of protestors blocking the Deltaport and Vancouver resulting in at least 43 arrests Monday morning.

UBC’s David Tindall says demonstrations capture people’s attention, however, it’s a larger question as to how long support may last with the public, as well as the unions, which seem to be supportive so far.

“I think in the short-term, solidarity will hold, but I think that it is a potential issue people that are employed in particular sectors gets more and more frustrated with the protest. So, there will be pressure on the union to maybe back away a little bit,” he explains.

RELATED: Police arrest protesters as injunction enforced against Wet’suwet’en supporters at Vancouver, Delta ports

Tindall says the protests are likely to have political consequences, noting the backlash from the protests movements in the forestry sector in B.C. in the 90s. He believes the strife decades ago had negative impacts on the NDP government at the time, due to the loss of labour union support.

“There was a lot of strain between the labour movement and the environmental movement over protests and shutdowns in the forestry sector and that had particular consequences,” he says.

Tindall says he believes these protests will continue for a while since he doesn’t see either side compromising as the issue entangles Indigenous rights and environmental concerns.

“The current protest may end in a day or two, but I don’t think they’re going away in the medium-term,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority is still calculating the financial impact of the port closures in both Vancouver and Delta.