Camp outside B.C. legislature the morning after a confrontation with police as they removed protesters from the Indigenous relations ministry on the evening of March 4, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Pipeline protesters planned B.C. legislature occupation, minister says

Scott Fraser ‘disappointed’ as five people arrested, removed

Seven anti-pipeline protesters invited from their camp on the steps of the B.C. legislature to a discussion inside were granted a “respectful” 90-minute meeting, then refused to leave until five were arrested, Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says.

Fraser told reporters Thursday the protesters requested a meeting with MLAs, and that was granted for a “small contingent” after discussions with Speaker Darryl Plecas on Wednesday. The meeting was set for 45 minutes and lasted 90 minutes, with no indication it would end in confrontation, he said.

“They asked for a few minutes to compose themselves before going outside,” Fraser said. “I guess that’s not what they were planning to do when they asked for that few minutes.”

Outside, demonstrators attempted to surround the building as legislature security called in Victoria Police.

“Officers who were responding to the scene were surrounded by over 100 protesters and were unable to respond to emergency calls for service,” Victoria Police reported on Twitter Thursday morning, adding that five people were arrested for mischief and released. No injuries were reported.

The legislature has been closed to the public for nearly two weeks as people opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline project have camped outside. The camp was bolstered Wednesday as University of Victoria students skipped class to come down for a rally and sleep-over that ended in the confrontation with police.

RELATED: Legislature protest camp disrupts throne speech

RELATED: Victoria councillors join anti-pipeline protest

Opposition MLAs grilled Fraser in the legislature Thursday, reminding him of the disruptions that began with a student-led push to stop the NDP government’s Feb. 11 throne speech to start the spring legislature session. Police received several complaints of assault as MLAs, staff and reporters were blocked from entering the legislature.

B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak noted Thursday that the campers promised not to light fires, but up to three fires on the steps have filled the legislature with smoke in recent days.

As the protest campers appeared to be packing up to leave, Plecas’ assistant Alan Mullen told reporters that no more tents or fires would be permitted in future demonstrations.

Fraser said he was given no indication by protesters that their often-repeated demand for work to stop on the gas pipeline would be a condition for leaving his office. The protesters promised to leave peacefully and then “reneged on their agreement” after Fraser and B.C. Green Party leader Adam Olsen left the office, the ministry said in a statement.

In a noisy question period Thursday, Premier John Horgan defended Fraser’s efforts to defuse the situation and give the Wet’suwet’en people time to consider a proposal to recognize their Indigenous land title. He criticized “the mob outside” for disrupting efforts in reconciliation.

On Wednesday, Horgan described the ongoing encampment and its demand to stop the pipeline as “counter-productive.”

“The pipeline is permitted,” Horgan said. “It’s being built. It’s being built by Indigenous people to a great degree, and the benefits are well known and well established.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoastal GasLink

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Castlegar Summer Reading Club program set to kickoff

The program will be held online this year due to the COVID-19 crisis

Castlegar fire crews respond to kitchen fire

Three fire trucks, the CFD command vehicle, two RCMP vehicles and one ambulance attended incident

RDCK: spring flooding financial relief available

The provincial funds are for those affected by flooding in May and early June

Mills oppose Celgar’s ask for cheaper logs destined for chipper

The Castlegar mill has asked the province for a lower rate for any log that goes straight to pulp

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Most Read