So, I see in the Globe and Mail, in a story datelined at about 5:00PM EST on 21 February, that “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for an immediate end to rail blockades, noting his government’s calls for dialogue with Indigenous protesters have been ignored and the patience of Canadians is wearing thin.“
A small handful of unelected, hereditary Wet’suwet’en Nation chiefs, perhaps not even a majority of the hereditary chiefs, have had their position, which seems to be that they feel that their views should have more weight than those of the elected band councils, “weaponized“ and they have held Canada hostage for almost two weeks. The hereditary chiefs have not needed to do much. Their cause, which seems to be almost totally misunderstood, has been taken up by activists who owe their ideas more to Greta Thunberg than to the Wet’suwet’en law. The unelected chiefs and the anti-capitalist, anti-Canadian activists who have stopped rail traffic in their name have played Justin Trudeau like a violin. He has been paralyzed … totally unable to decide between the contradictory demands put in front of him.
Finally, the prime minister said that ““Here’s the reality: Every attempt at dialogue has been made. The discussions have not been productive. We can’t have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures. Of course, we will never close the door on dialogue, and our hand remains extended should someone want to reach for it … [but] … the fact remains, the barricades must now come down. The injunctions must be obeyed and the law must be upheld.”“
But talk is cheap and “British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs held a news conference in Tyendinaga, Ont., where they are visiting their Mohawk supporters who have blocked the key CN Rail line linking Montreal and Toronto for more than two weeks …[and] … Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by Frank Alec, said the protests and blockades will continue until the RCMP and Coastal GasLink [CGL] workers leave their traditional territory.“
So, Prime Minister Trudeau’s “must” has been met with open defiance. He, more or less, threw down a gauntlet upon which the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs then figuratively spat ~ by restating, maybe even increasing their demands ~ before throwing it back.
The police and many politicians are undoubtedly correct in wishing to proceed cautiously, in wishing, above all, to avoid another Ipperwash (1997). But that, an armed confrontation, is, I think, what the hereditary chiefs are after. If I’m right, and it’s always a big IF, and if their ‘problem’ is that they don’t want to cede authority to the elected leaders ~ just as the Cavaliers didn’t want to cede the divine right of kings to an elected parliament in the 1640s ~ then they need a confrontation, the bigger and more violent the better.
If Justin. Trudeau wants the barricades down then he must accept that his reconciliation process will suffer a major setback. If he wants the barricades down then he is, explicitly siding with a pipeline company against both (some, but by no means most) indigenous people and the climate change community. If he wants the barricades down then he’s admitting that Andrew Scheer was right and he was wrong. It’s about time.