B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson (green jacket) visits Gitdumden blockade on Morice River Road, before RCMP moved in to enforce court order to clear the road for Coastal Gaslink crews. (Twitter)

B.C. MLA defends visit to LNG pipeline protest camp

Doug Donaldson is minister in charge of pipeline permits

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says his visit to a gas pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. was not to support people defying a court order, but an effort to ease tensions before police moved in to clear their roadblock.

Opposition MLAs began calling for Donaldson’s resignation after pictures of his visit appeared on social media Monday. Donaldson approached the protester checkpoint with a box of supplies and was allowed into the Gitmunden blockade camp.

“As MLA for Stikine, it is my responsibility to listen to the views of the people I represent,” Donaldson said in a statement late Monday. “I visited the check point on the invitation of my constituents and hereditary chiefs to hear their concerns and observe protocols. At the same time I am aware that the laws of Canada must be upheld and court injunctions must be followed.”

RCMP officers moved in Monday to enforce an interim injunction against blockades set up near the Morice River Bridge south of Houston in northwestern B.C. The Unist’ot’en camp, set up by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, has been blocking access by Coastal GasLink crews doing preparation for a pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas export terminal approved for Kitimat.

After a struggle with police in tactical gear cutting away a gate across the road Monday, protesters set a fire at the camp and 14 people were taken into custody.

RELATED: RCMP enforce pipeline injunction

RELATED: International protest network holding rallies

The project has been approved by Indigenous band councils all along the route, but opposition to all pipelines by some hereditary chiefs has been entrenched for several years, supported by anti-fossil fuel protesters from outside the region.

B.C. Liberal MLAs called for Donaldson to resign, arguing that as minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, he is responsible for issuing permits for the pipeline project and should not be supporting an illegal protest.

“First Nations communities across B.C. want economic development to address poverty and other issues, that’s why this project has the support of every elected band council along the route,” said Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, a former chief of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat. “What we keep seeing here are NDP ministers ignoring First Nations elected officials, because these communities don’t support the NDP activist agenda.”

Donaldson said his visit was to acknowledge the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, a foundation of constitutional rights and title for Indigenous people.

“This illustrates how these two systems of law are colliding and underlines the importance of the separate reconciliation process our government has undertaken with the office of the Wet’suwet’en,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Last call for the ever-vanishing payphone in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Where many phones once resided, only memories remain

Developers go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by Parksville council

IAG Developments has proposed a multi-building development on city’s waterfront

WATCH: Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first extended steps in nearly three decades

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Parksville man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Nick Major, 21, was a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

Rescue required after woman falls trying to climb down from Nanaimo walkway

Husband says his wife fell trying to find a place to urinate

Justin Trudeau’s carbon footprint revealed in ranking of world leaders

Travel company ranks 15 world leaders’ foreign flight CO2 emissions

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Most Read