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Blockades targeting economy could have long-term impact on future infrastructure investment
VANCOUVER -- The protests and blockades by people supporting Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in northern B.C. could have long term effects on Canada's international reputation as a place to invest in large infrastructure projects.
That’s according to UBC sociology professor David Tindall, who studies environmental movements.
“The more there’s delay, the higher the costs rise, and that could have an impact both on that particular pipeline, but also on future investment decisions,” Tindall told CTV News Vancouver.
For 11 days now, groups across the country have taken to the streets in protest – in some cases blocking key transportation infrastructure, including rail lines and ports.
It’s all in support of the efforts of some Wet’suwet’en people to block a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory.
The issue is about much more than a single pipeline. It's about what the project means for Indigenous sovereignty over unceded lands.
The Wet’suwet’en have no treaty in place with either the federal or provincial governments.
“We need to look at the bigger picture here. This is an issue about title over territory, over lands, that the government has not resolved,” said Molly Wickam, spokesperson for the Gidimt’en Camp, where RCMP made a number of arrests earlier this month. “This is an issue about self-determining people and our ability to choose our governance system that has been in place for thousands of years.”
A rail blockade on Mohawk territory near Belleville, Ontario, has shut down cross-country passenger service, as well as all freight trains in eastern Canada.
Police there have not enforced a court injunction in favour of CN Rail ordering the tracks to be cleared.
“Both the federal government and the provincial government are trying to not be seen to act too rashly,” said Tindall. “So, they’re being somewhat patient and I think, as is necessary, they are giving police forces some autonomy on what the best way to approach this situation is.”
The federal government remains hopeful it can peacefully negotiate an end to the stalemate.
“It’s clear the country is suffering, it’s clear the economy is suffering, there’s shortages and it’ll only get worse if this continues,” said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller. “But the question I asked myself is, 'Who are we as a people? What do we believe in? Do we believe in peace & dialogue?'”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled a planned trip to Barbados, where he was scheduled to meet with the heads of several Caribbean nations, so he can focus on the protests and blockades.