Don Martin: No magic political wand to wish down the barricades
A retired General Motors worker from Michigan was doing his running-on-the-spot aquacise routine in a Florida pool the other day, trying to digest our conversation on Canada’s Indigenous rail blockades.
But his confusion only grew as I tried to explain the issue of Wet’suwet’en elected chief support clashing with hereditary chief opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which has unleashed sympathy protests and paralyzed rail service across Canada.
He kept shaking his head in obvious incredulity while circling back to the same reaction to the illegal barricades. “Why don’t the police just knock ‘em down? Your cops do carry guns up there, don’t they?”
Gotta love Floridians. Their solution to every problem usually involves a gun pointed at somebody.
But there’s growing support in Canada to use firearm force to end this standoff, even if that would only trigger wider and more violent forms of protest.
And there’s little sign of a magic political wand to wish down the barricades, despite today's proposed RCMP retreat from territory at the epicentre of the dispute.
Perhaps nothing amplifies political befuddlement and indigenous resolve more than a planned summit supposedly taking shape today.
The federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister is heading to the B.C. town nearest the Wet’suwet’en barricades to wait for an invite to meet hereditary chiefs, who have thus far refused Carolyn Bennett’s overtures to negotiate.
Complicating factor: Even a cursory reading of news coverage would’ve told the minister those very chiefs were meeting supporters in Ontario today.
So to summarize: The senior minister on Indigenous relations can’t get a meeting to relate to key Indigenous chiefs, so she flies with her entourage to the wrong side of the country to wait and hope for a meeting with chiefs who aren’t there.
Welcome to reconciliation Trudeau-style, folks. Can’t wait to tell that doozy to my American friend in the pool.
It’s easy to feel empathy for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s no-win predicament. Every course of action will be seen as wrong and nail his political popularity with a hammer.
But his public response has deserved the ridicule it received as a predictable, flaky, jumble of aspirational platitudes. He has failed to even sound sincere, something he used to fake fairly well.
If there was ever a public opinion poll-booster issue for Conservatives, this should be it.
But then, right on cue, the Conservative crown prince wades in.
Peter MacKay tweeted out his applause for counter-protester civilian action, which removed some barricades in Edmonton this week.
Seriously? Citizens taking law enforcement into their own hands in the incendiary realm of Indigenous protest is a commendable idea?
Despite MacKay deleting the tweet in a moment of big-backlash reflection, it makes you wonder how this could possibly be the best the Conservatives have to offer as prime ministerial material.
Of course, Parliament’s response is to do what it does best: Generate hot air in an emergency debate before empty observation galleries and dozens of nodding-off viewers on the parliamentary channel.
Then MPs debated a meaningless Conservative motion in a mostly-empty Commons to side with the elected chiefs, which will immediately disappear into the official transcripts.
Sadly and scarily, this standoff is far more serious than all the ineffective posturing and pointless debates to date suggest.
If the rail lines remain blocked and resulting layoffs spread, a lot more Canadians will think like Americans on the best way to end it.
After all, our cops do have guns.