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Rail blockades should end now that RCMP have moved off disputed area of Wet'suwet'en territory, feds say

Last Updated Feb 20, 2020 at 9:08 am PST

FILE - Supporters of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs block a CN Rail line just west of Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday February 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Summary

The feds say they conditions have been met to end rail blockades across the country

At least one Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief says RCMP withdrawing officers doesn't go far enough

Some hereditary chiefs apparently want to meet with the prime minister himself to discuss the ongoing dispute

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The Trudeau government believes the rail blockades across the country should be lifted, now that the B.C. RCMP has agreed to withdraw officers from a disputed area on the Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Mounties’ arrests of pipeline opponents who tried to block the construction of a Coastal GasLink natural gas line through the territory is what initially sparked solidarity blockades nation-wide, grounding most passenger and freight rail traffic to a halt.

“[The RCMP] have currently been deployed out of a structure on the roadway, about 22 kilometres down the road,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said of officers while on his way into a cabinet meeting Thursday morning. “They’re now going to deploy their officers from the nearby town of Houston, which is off the roadway.”

Blair said the RCMP officers will remain in the area in order to make sure no further barricades go up.

While Mounties will still technically be on the Wet’suwet’en territory, Blair believes the move meets the conditions to end the ongoing rail blockades.

“I think, now, the circumstances are such that those barricades should come down,” he told reporters.

The minister of Crown-Indigenous relations hopes this leads to talks between the two sides, but at least one hereditary chief says it’s not enough, telling news outlets the hereditary chiefs want a meeting with the prime minister, as well as Coastal GasLink off their land.

The federal government has committed to ending this dispute peacefully, while critics have called for police intervention.

The defence minister was quick to dismiss the idea of bringing in the military, while the country’s agriculture minister said she was looking at ways to support farmers impacted by ongoing blockades.