Anti−pipeline protesters were served with a court injunction ordering them to stop blocking access to four ports in the Vancouver area on Feb. 9, marking the latest development in what has become a national movement to halt construction on the natural gas project.
The injunction, sought by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and signed by Justice Michael Tammen, orders protesters to leave the authority’s lands and stop blockading access points to ports in Vancouver and Delta, B.C.
“The police are ordered to arrest and remove any person who has knowledge of this order and who the police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe is contravening or has contravened any provision of this order,” the court document reads.
A spokeswoman for the authority said there was no option but to force the protesters out so port operations can resume, but the protesters say they intend to stay.
They’re acting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are trying to halt construction of a massive pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.
The hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline crossing their territory and efforts by the B.C. government to negotiate an agreement to end the protests have failed.
Their fight has sparked a protest movement that spans from the steps of the B.C. legislature in Victoria to the ports in Vancouver to rail lines in Ontario and Quebec.
Meantime, several people arrested at various remote locations in northwest British Columbia near construction zones for the 670−kilometre Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline were due in court on Feb. 10.
They are charged with breach of trust, a Wet’suwet’en spokeswoman said.
“All of the 14 people have refused to sign their undertakings because they are following Wet’suwet’en law,” Jen Wickham said in a telephone interview from Houston, B.C. “They’ve all been charged with breach of the injunction.”
The RCMP said on Feb. 8 that officers enforcing a court injunction arrested 11 people who allegedly barricaded themselves in a warming centre in a forested area near a pipeline work site. The other arrests occurred Feb. 7 at another Indigenous camp near the pipeline route.
Premier John Horgan said the pipeline, which is part of the massive $40 billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export terminal project, is of vital economic and social importance to the province’s north and already has the approval of 20 elected First Nations councils along the route from Dawson Creek to Kitimat.
He said the courts have decided the pipeline can proceed and the rule of law must prevail.
Supporters blocked access to Victoria’s downtown Johnson Street bridge on Feb. 8 and dozens of Indigenous youth have set up a camp on the front steps of the B.C. legislature.
Rail traffic near Toronto has also been disrupted by Wet’suwet’en supporters.
Before the court injunction was served, Vancouver Wet’suwet’en protest organizer Natalie Knight said dozens of people were picketing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs and to send a message to the government and business community.
“We recognize the importance of disrupting capital, disrupting money and goods that come out of the city of Vancouver, that are coming from up north or going up north or that are being sent around the world,” said Knight. “This sends a very clear message to business and the government that we are not going to allow business to continue as usual.”
At the B.C. legislature, Wet’suwet’en supporter Kolin Sutherland−Wilson said people intend to camp on the steps while the RCMP remains in Wet’suwet’en territory.
“We’re here as long as the [RCMP] raid is happening,” he said.
The supporters at the legislature have lit a ceremonial fire in a steel pit on the front steps and are sleeping at the entrance reserved for dignitaries, including the lieutenant governor. B.C.’s legislature is set to resume sitting on Feb. 11.
Sutherland−Wilson said the fire is for sacred purposes and is being monitored for safety.
“If all this granite catches on fire, I’ll be awfully surprised,” he said.