Anti-pipeline protesters descend on Ottawa, delay Trudeau appearance

Protesters stand outside the room where the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to speak in Ottawa, Tuesday January 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Dozens of protesters delayed an appearance by the prime minister Tuesday afternoon, drumming and chanting in a government building where Justin Trudeau was set to speak.

Police have kept Trudeau out of a Sussex Drive office building in Ottawa, where he’s to address a forum bringing together federal officials and representatives from self-governing First Nations that have “modern” treaties with the Crown.

The protesters are angry about the RCMP’s intervention in a blockade in northern British Columbia, enforcing an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court.

The injunction is to remove anyone who interferes with a Coastal GasLink pipeline project in and around the Morice River Bridge.

Members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have set up a camp and a checkpoint southwest of Houston, B.C., on a forest-service road that leads to a pipeline construction site.

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Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route but demonstrators say Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent.

The federal NDP’s reconciliation critic says the justification used for the RCMP’s intervention is “pretty lame” in an era of supposed reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Romeo Saganash joined demonstrators on Parliament Hill before the group marched through downtown Ottawa streets with signs including a large red one reading: “RCMP Off Wet’suwet’en Land.”

Saganash says he did not hear back from the provincial and federal Indigenous-affairs ministers he asked to help alleviate tension in northern B.C. prior to the arrests by the Mounties.

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