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Canadians expected to obey the law amid pipeline protests: federal environment minister

Last Updated Feb 11, 2020 at 1:42 pm PDT

FILE - Canadian Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson fields questions at a news conference as the G7 environment, oceans and energy ministers meet in Halifax on September 20, 2018. A final report by a federal advisory panel on marine protected areas off Canada's coasts says activities such as oil and gas exploration and bottom trawling fishing should be prohibited as protected areas are created. The panel released its report Tuesday making 13 recommendations, including that the federal government adopt the standards and guidelines developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which prohibits industrial activities in Marine Protected Areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Minister Jonathan Wilkinson expects Canadians to abide by the law because the RCMP is enforcing a court order

Wilkinson says Premier John Horgan has been trying to find a resolution to the pipeline battle

Horgan has said he still wants to hold discussion with hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The federal minister of environment says he expects Canadians to abide by the law when it comes to the ongoing tensions around an LNG pipeline in north-central B.C.

While Jonathan Wilkinson says he acknowledges the Coastal GasLink pipeline is within provincial jurisdiction, he would prefer a negotiated solution with appropriate consultation.

“I think Premier Horgan has been trying very hard to find a resolution to this, including the appointment of Nathan Cullen to try to work through it,” the minister says. “Obviously that has not been fully successful. We would always prefer negotiated solutions and certainly, we have always believed, and we have been very strong about this, that ensuring appropriate consultation and attempts to try and accommodate is really important.”

However, Wilkinson says at the end of the day, the RCMP is enforcing a court order.

The federal Liberals have faced a lot of criticism on a number of fronts, including for their handling of the Trans Mountain expansion, the purchase of that pipeline, and the expected approval of the Teck Resources Frontier mine.

RELATED: ‘It’s an important project’: Federal ministers weigh in on Teck Frontier mine

“We have to recognize we are moving through a transition that will be decades-long, where hydrocarbons will continue to be used,” Wilkinson says. “Canada needs to ensure it is getting value for its resources in order to be able to invest in the transition.”

Horgan has said he still wants to hold discussion with hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline, but talks between the province and hereditary chiefs broke down last week.

Following the RCMP enforcement of the court injunction, the head the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) suggested the situation wouldn’t have escalated if Premier John Horgan would have agreed to meet with local Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs earlier in the week.

With files from Ash Kelly and Cormac Mac Sweeney