B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson (green jacket) visits Gitdumden blockade on Morice River Road, before RCMP moved in to enforce court order to clear the road for Coastal Gaslink crews. (Twitter)

B.C. MLA defends visit to LNG pipeline protest camp

Doug Donaldson is minister in charge of pipeline permits

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says his visit to a gas pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. was not to support people defying a court order, but an effort to ease tensions before police moved in to clear their roadblock.

Opposition MLAs began calling for Donaldson’s resignation after pictures of his visit appeared on social media Monday. Donaldson approached the protester checkpoint with a box of supplies and was allowed into the Gitmunden blockade camp.

“As MLA for Stikine, it is my responsibility to listen to the views of the people I represent,” Donaldson said in a statement late Monday. “I visited the check point on the invitation of my constituents and hereditary chiefs to hear their concerns and observe protocols. At the same time I am aware that the laws of Canada must be upheld and court injunctions must be followed.”

RCMP officers moved in Monday to enforce an interim injunction against blockades set up near the Morice River Bridge south of Houston in northwestern B.C. The Unist’ot’en camp, set up by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, has been blocking access by Coastal GasLink crews doing preparation for a pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas export terminal approved for Kitimat.

After a struggle with police in tactical gear cutting away a gate across the road Monday, protesters set a fire at the camp and 14 people were taken into custody.

RELATED: RCMP enforce pipeline injunction

RELATED: International protest network holding rallies

The project has been approved by Indigenous band councils all along the route, but opposition to all pipelines by some hereditary chiefs has been entrenched for several years, supported by anti-fossil fuel protesters from outside the region.

B.C. Liberal MLAs called for Donaldson to resign, arguing that as minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, he is responsible for issuing permits for the pipeline project and should not be supporting an illegal protest.

“First Nations communities across B.C. want economic development to address poverty and other issues, that’s why this project has the support of every elected band council along the route,” said Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, a former chief of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat. “What we keep seeing here are NDP ministers ignoring First Nations elected officials, because these communities don’t support the NDP activist agenda.”

Donaldson said his visit was to acknowledge the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, a foundation of constitutional rights and title for Indigenous people.

“This illustrates how these two systems of law are colliding and underlines the importance of the separate reconciliation process our government has undertaken with the office of the Wet’suwet’en,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureLNG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Work begins on new affordable housing building in Nelson

The 39-unit project is expected to be complete by July 2021

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Morning Start: 180 different bird species exist in Kootenay National Park

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 29

Retiring staff feted by School District 8

Teachers, custodians and staff were honoured Thursday

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Suspect in West Kootenay gas station stabbing found dead

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Most Read