Kenney says pipeline protests "are not about Indigenous rights"

Feb 12 2020, 1:25 pm

As a number of solidarity demonstrations pop up across the country in support of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in British Columbia, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the actions represent “fringe political agendas.”

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Kenney was asked by a reporter about the ongoing demonstrations and blockades around the country, opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern BC, running through Wet’suwet’en territory.

“I think this is a dress rehearsal for illegal protests on pretty much any major project,” said Kenney at the press conference.

“If these folks were actually concerned about CO2 emissions they would be calling for the acceleration of the Coastal GasLink project, not trying to shut down our economy, commuters, [and] people trying to get to work.”

Kenney says that the demonstrations are not about Indigenous rights, but about a “hard left ideology.”

“The elected council of the Wet’suwet’en people support the project, including the majority of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people,” said Kenney.

However, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have been strongly opposing the pipeline, and demanding the provincial and federal governments respect their rule of law.

“The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are title holders and govern access to our traditional lands,” said a release from chiefs last month.

“By trespassing on Wet’suwet’en traditional lands, CGL has infringed on Canadian and international law and has compromised sites central to the spiritual and cultural well-being of Wet’suwet’en people.”

Kenney says the opposition is coming from people in urban Southern Canada, “who are projecting their own fringe political agenda on the Indigenous people of Northwestern Canada, who want to give a lifeline of hope to their young people.”

“This is not about Indigenous people, this is not about carbon emissions, it’s about a hard left ideology that is frankly opposed to the entire modern industrial economy, and I think it’s about time that our police services demonstrated that this is a country that respects the rule of law,” said Kenney.

However, when it comes to the Teck Frontier Pipeline in Alberta’s own backyard, Athabascan Chipewyan First Nations have raised concerns about how the government dealt with issues surrounding the project.

The government said in the press conference that wildlife, and in particular bison herds, are well protected by the province already.

“We are working towards a partnership with the 14 indigenous communities that are in the area, to help manage that herd together,” said Alberta’s Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

As the Province looks to push forward with the Teck Frontier Pipeline project, Indigenous communities in Alberta, including the Athabascan Chipewyan community are also expressing concern with their rights on their land.

“We have seen no meaningful movement on the list of items that impact our ability to practice our constitutional treaty rights,” said their letter.