Morneau repeatedly interrupted by protesters during energy chat
Published Thursday, December 13, 2018 11:59AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2018 1:58PM EST
OTTAWA – Finance Minister Bill Morneau was repeatedly interrupted by Indigenous rights and energy project protesters during a discussion hosted by Canada 2020, a think-tank with ties to the Liberal Party.
The discussion was on the $40 billion LNG Canada natural gas pipeline that is going ahead in northern British Columbia, and in the opening seconds before Morneau could say a word, someone in the room blew a whistle and a man and woman appeared on stage in front of Morneau and the moderator, Canadian Press Ottawa Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield.
The man was holding a white banner that read: “No evictions of Unist’ot’en” and then woman said: “We are here in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en first nations who are facing eviction for LNG expansion.” The Unist’ot’en is a clan of the northern B.C. Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
“No eviction of Unist’ot’en, respect indigenous rights,” the pair then said in unison. After they were escorted off stage Morneau spoke to the interruption.
“Obviously getting large projects done in this country, like in other countries, projects that can have an important and long-term impact on our economy and on the creation of great jobs is going to be difficult because we do need to get people on board from all cross sections of society,” Morneau said.
Then, minutes later, another whistle blew and a group at a table stood, holding a similar banner that read “respect Indigenous rights.” One person then said “Justin Trudeau, how can you claim to support reconciliation when you are criminalizing Indigenous peoples for protecting their own lands?” Her seatmate then chimed in and began repeating, “no eviction of Unist’ot’en, respect Indigenous rights.”
The Council of Canadians has taken credit for the protests. Earlier this month, an energy company associated with the development of the LNG Canada project filed an injunction against the long-standing Unist’ot’en camp that is blocking access to a bridge and road that the company says it needs access to for construction.
The conversation on stage continued before it happened again for a third time: a whistle blew and a woman stood, holding a yellow banner. She said: “Bill Morneau, a safe climate means no pipelines on unceded land. No eviction of Unist’ot’en, respect Indigenous rights.”
The discussion with Morneau then continued to the end without any further outbursts. During his remarks the finance minister highlighted the LNG project’s consultations with Indigenous communities.
"The protestors were orderly and cooperative, and left the event without incident," said Canada 2020 Executive Director Alex Paterson in an email to CTVNews.ca
Paterson said that later on during the event the Chief of the Indigenous community in Kittimat, where the LNG plant is going, joined the discussion via video-conference, and addressed the protestors as demeaning.