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article imageWhat is the Coastal GasLink Pipeline protest all about?

By Karen Graham     Feb 12, 2020 in World
Victoria - Growing anti-pipeline protests in British Columbia and across Canada over the Coastal GasLink Pipeline have forced CN Rail to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors, raising fears the protests will impact Canada's economy.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is at the heart of the protests that have spread across Canada of late. Its route starts near Dawson Creek and runs approximately 670 kilometers (420 miles) south-west to a plant near Kitimat. The pipeline is owned and operated by TC Energy.
The pipeline cuts through the traditional territories of several First Nations. Approval was given by twenty First Nations band councils - including the Wetʼsuwetʼen elected band council along the proposed route. However, the project is opposed by the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en, other Indigenous nations, and environmental activists.
The objection to the pipeline goes back into Canada's history and is a key reason for the opposition to the pipeline. Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs claim that when British Columbia joined Canada, the province had not entered into any treaties with the First Nations over its territory, including the Wet'suwet'en.
The Hereditary Chiefs claim that 22,000 square kilometers (8,500 square miles) of Wet'suwet'en territory was never ceded to the Government of Canada, and the chiefs claim aboriginal title over the land.
A controversial injunction handed down by the B.C. Supreme Court in December 2019 extended an injunction first issued in December 2018 against Wet'suwet'en protesters blocking the forest service road that provides access to the construction site.
The injunction gave the Royal Canadian Mounted Police the authority to enforce the injunction and after talks between the Chiefs and all others involved in the talks broke down in early February this year, the RCMP began enforcing the injunction - and this brings us up to today.
On Tuesday, protesters who had camped out on the front steps of the B.C. legislature, surrounded the BC building, preventing the traditional ceremonies around the reading of the Throne Speech by the Lieutenant Governor. Members of the Legislature had to have police assistance to enter or snuck in through back or side entrances.
The extended damage from the protests
When the RCMP began arresting protesters and breaking up blockades, people across Canada and in the United States rose up in solidarity with the anti-pipeline protesters.
Two key bridges in Victoria, B.C. were shut down by blockades, while on Tuesday, J.J. Ruest, the president and CEO of CN Rail, issued a statement saying the railway would temporarily shutter "significant" parts of its network because of blockades by Indigenous protesters near Belleville, Ont., and New Hazelton, B.C. according to CBC Canada.
"We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end," Ruest said.
In Ottawa, a group occupied the lobby of the Justice Department. And in Toronto, protestors took over Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett's constituency office, demanding that the "RCMP back down" and that the pipeline be scrapped, reports the Business Times.
More about Coastal GasLink pipeline, Britishcolumbia, CN rail service, Economy, Tyendinaga Mohawk
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