Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser under fire for allowing protesters into B.C. legislature

Click to play video: 'B.C. legislature protest mischief arrests, removal of 10-day camp'
B.C. legislature protest mischief arrests, removal of 10-day camp
WATCH: B.C. legislature protest mischief arrests, removal of 10-day camp – Mar 5, 2020

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says he is “deeply disappointed” that five Indigenous youth refused to leave the legislature following a meeting with him on Wednesday.

The five Indigenous protesters were arrested at the B.C. legislature after Fraser invited the group to meet in the Rattenbury Room earlier Wednesday following a request from a larger group of protesters outside.

“I believed we had an opportunity,” Fraser said Thursday.

“We ran it by the Speaker and it seemed like it was a good idea at the time. Sure I would have done something different if I knew it was going to end up in arrests.”

The delegation had agreed to leave the room once the meeting ended, but the protesters “reneged on their agreement and made it clear that they would not leave the building as agreed.”

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“I still feel very disappointed,” Fraser said.

“I could not do my job at all if I didn’t work with respect, provide trust and good faith. It is the basis of everything I do. I found by providing that respect it is normally reciprocated and I’m disappointed it wasn’t.”

The arrests required additional support from the Victoria Police Department. In a statement issued Thursday, Victoria police said the protests led to a reduction of service in other parts of the community.

“Officers who were responding to the scene were surrounded by over 100 protesters and were unable to respond to emergency calls for service,” police said.

The B.C. Liberals criticized Fraser’s decision, saying it was inevitable the group would remain inside.

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“What the minister did is put a lot of people at risk. People who work in this building and people who live in Victoria for whom the police were required to attend were no longer available to provide service,” BC Liberal MLA Mike de Jong said.

“How is the lack of judgment the minister showed last night supposed to convey any sense of confidence?”

The five individuals arrested have been released under the condition they do not return to the grounds of the legislature. They had been at the legislature for more than 10 days.

The supporters of the Indigenous youth are in the process of packing up and leaving.

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