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Public safety minister says ongoing blockades not considered acts of terrorism

Last Updated Feb 27, 2020 at 9:58 am PDT

FILE - A truck with flags and posters stand near the closed train tracks on ninth day of the train blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Friday Feb. 14, 2020, the protest is in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Summary

Federal public safety minister dismisses suggestions ongoing blockades should be considered acts of terrorism

Question came day after tensions flared in Ontario when protesters stood in front on moving train, threw rocks, lit fire

Government says it's hopeful talks with hereditary chiefs on Thursday will lead to some sort of resolution

OTTAWA – As the Trudeau government hopes for a breakthrough when it comes to pipeline and Indigenous rights demonstrations, a Conservative MP is questioning if ongoing blockades across the country constitute acts of terrorism.

The moment came during a committee meeting on Parliament Hill, where Public Safety Minister Bill Blair appeared as a witness about budgets.

Conservative MP Doug Shipley asked Blair about the ongoing situation, and after reading the definition of terrorism, asked if the recent protests cross a legal line.

“Why would they not be intentionally intimidating the public or a segment of the public with regards to its security?” Shipley said, also asking the minister if the blockades were being “deemed as a terrorist activity,” to which Blair replied, “No, they’re not.”

Following the committee meeting, Blair reiterated his point, adding that call is for police to make.

“I have not been advised by any law enforcement official that they have made that determination, so to this point, the answer is no. But the investigations conducted by the police, the determination is under their discretion,” he said.

During her testimony, RMCP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said they have policies for dealing with Indigenous blockades.

“Of course, enforcement is the last option, it’s about dialogue and trying to find a peaceful resolution,” she said.

This came a day after protesters in Tyendinaga, Ontario stood in front of a moving train, throwing rocks and lighting a fire on the tracks.

Meanwhile, the government has said it’s hopeful Thursday’s meeting with hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline through the Wet’suwet’en territory can lead to some sort of resolution to de-escalate the tensions.