Advertisement

Deputy PM Freeland physically blocked by demonstrators ahead of meeting with Halifax mayor

Freeland confronted by pipeline protesters in Halifax
WATCH: Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was physically confronted by Wet'suwet'en solidarity protesters in Halifax on Wednesday as she attempted to enter City Hall. Freeland provided remarks after entering the building about the protests and her experience with the confrontation.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was physically blocked from entering Halifax City Hall on Wednesday by demonstrators supporting the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C.

Freeland was scheduled to meet with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, but was confronted by several demonstrators who blocked her entrance to City Hall. She was eventually able to squeeze through the doors.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en: Here’s where solidarity protests are happening across Canada

“I absolutely respect the right of Canadians across the country to exercise their right to peaceful protest,” Freeland told reporters. “The protesters did express the view that they wanted to prevent me from having this meeting with the mayor and his team.

“Respectfully, that was not a view I was prepared to agree with.”

Tweet This

Freeland added that it’s important for all people in Canada to “go about their legitimate and rightful business, even as other Canadians are expressing their right to peaceful protest.”

“Having that balance, having that mutual respect of each other is very important,” she said.

Wet’suwet’en Nation divided on Coastal GasLink pipeline
Wet’suwet’en Nation divided on Coastal GasLink pipeline

Earlier in the day, the deputy prime minister met with Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil at One Government Place, where she was also met by about 30 demonstrators.

Prior to her meeting with Savage, demonstrators created a human wall in front of City Hall to block Freeland from entering.

Freeland said this was the first time she was physically blocked from a meeting.

“This is the first time that people have touched me physically, and physically tried to prevent me from doing something,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I really respect the fact that Canadians are politically engaged … but it is important for all of us, whether we are peacefully protesting or whatever we are doing, to respect the rights of our fellow Canadians.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en protests and arrests: Here’s a look at what’s happening now

When asked if she was injured or violated when trying to enter City Hall, Freeland said she was unharmed.

“I’m fine. I’m pretty tough.”

Outside of the meeting, Amanda, a demonstrator who only provided her first name, claimed Freeland did not want to listen to what demonstrators had to say.

“She didn’t want to hear us,” said Amanda.

“She was intent on getting to her meeting and she made it very clear that listening to us was not something she had time for.”

Tweet This

Blockades have been occurring across Canada in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s fight against the $6-billion, 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which crosses their traditional, unceded territory.

Via Rail was forced to cancel service between Montreal and Toronto for five days as a result of one of the blockades, while a protest caused disruption on Wednesday in Vancouver’s downtown core.

Pipeline protest near CN rail tracks in Tyendinaga enters 7th day
Pipeline protest near CN rail tracks in Tyendinaga enters 7th day