B.C. Premier John Horgan says the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline will get built even with opposition from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and protesters along the pipeline route.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since tensions flared up in Northern B.C., Horgan said the communities must abide by a ruling from the B.C. Supreme Court giving CGL the right to complete the project.
“The rule of law applies in British Columbia,” Horgan said.
“All the permits are in place for the project and the project will be proceeding.”
The Wet’suwet’en have presented CGL with an eviction notice asking them to get off the land. The hereditary chiefs have been adamant they are going to uphold Wet’suwet’en law.
WATCH (aired January 8): Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project
Community members and protesters continue to occupy Unist’ot’en house in an attempt to keep workers off the land.
“They are the title holders of these lands, so until they give any express consent or permission we won’t allow trespassers back into the territory,” Unist’ot’en house member Karla Tait said last week.
But the B.C. government says 20 Indigenous communities have supported the project along the route, including the elected chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en.
WATCH (aired January 11): Show of support for Wet’suwet’en protesters in downtown Vancouver
When asked if Horgan believes the hereditary chiefs have the power to the stop the project, he says he doesn’t think so.
“I don’t believe they do and more important the courts don’t either,” Horgan said. “In this instance the courts have determined this project can proceed and it will proceed.
“We want to see British Columbians sharing in the wealth of our great province. We want to see everyone prospering. We want to see an environment protected for future generations.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also asked about the ongoing tensions near Houston, B.C. in an interview with Global National host Dawna Friesen on Monday. Trudeau says he wants the dispute to be dealt with by the B.C. government.
“It is well being taken care of by the provincial government, but obviously we all have a role to play and the path forward on reconciliation,” Trudeau said.
“I think right now it is a provincial government engagement with them that is happening as it is appropriate. It’s a provincial project and provincial processes. But of course, the federal government will continue to engage.”
Trudeau was also asked about whose opinion should be listened to: the hereditary chiefs or the elected chiefs. Trudeau says it’s not a simple answer.
“When you have an elected band council that has signed agreements with with various entities, corporations and governments, that has a certain weight to it,” Trudeau said.
“But there needs to be a reflection on who speaks entirely, or who speaks in part, for different parts of the community. And that’s part of the process that we are working out together as as must be but with them leading on this.”