For more than 24 hours, a protest at a route site for the proposed B.C. pipeline project, Coastal GasLink, has seen residents of Fort St. John, B.C., and protesters descend on the site in what’s been dubbed the ‘Fort St. John gas fight.’
Whilst the RCMP have taken over the police role, questions have arisen over whether they’re doing enough to control the massive protest, and some are calling for the RCMP to remove protesters completely.
B.C. public safety minister Mike Farnworth says that the protesters should be removed, with Public Safety Minister with B.C. Mike Farnworth stating it is up to the RCMP to make decisions about what to do and how to do it.
‘The situation will all come down to a balance between public safety, disruption of the project, and respect for people’s right to peaceful protests,’ said Mr. Farnworth.
‘The bridge is the location where people have gathered and it is not the place where the protest is ongoing.
‘We are asking that people follow the laws and we are also asking that people peacefully protest in a lawful and lawful manner.’
“The law and the community want people to peacefully engage in public protest. People are not going to be moved.”
B.C. Police Commissioner Mike Porteous agrees that protesters should be removed, saying that peaceful protest is necessary but the blockade is “unacceptable.”
“This has to be addressed because it is causing delays and cannot go on any longer. The relationship between people protesting and the police is important. However, we need to move quickly.
“If it continues we will be forced to move in and do it ourselves.”
Porteous acknowledges that, of course, officers will want to protect the protest by moving demonstrators away and into a safe and secure area.
“We will deal with them appropriately.”
The issue is currently under RCMP investigation and they won’t comment on whether there will be any further action, but there are suggestions that they could arrest people involved and the protesters could then seek bail.
Porteous says that people simply have to get on with it and leave the site to move to the next step.
“This blockade has persisted for long enough. People need to stop the blockade and put their focus on safety and respecting the law.”