Two hereditary chiefs from a British Columbia First Nation at the heart of a wave of national protests launched a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects on Wednesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for demonstrators to observe the rule of law.
The challenge calls on the Federal Court to declare that Canada is constitutionally obliged to meet international climate change targets, which the chiefs contend would cancel approvals for a natural gas pipeline that runs through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.
“If Canada is allowed to continue approving infrastructure for fracked gas projects on a 40-year timeline, our territories will become a wasteland before the project licenses expire,” Chief Lho’imggin, who also goes by Alphonse Gagnon, said in a statement.
“As house chief it is my responsibility to protect our house territory. We’re asking the court to get Canada to act before it is too late.”
Protests become more than anti-pipeline
The challenge came as protesters continued to blockade major ports and rail lines in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, scuttling freight and passenger service and prompting growing calls for federal government intervention.
Speaking in Senegal on Wednesday, Trudeau called on all sides to resolve their differences but insisted that protesters must honour Canadian law.
“We recognize the important democratic right and will always defend it of peaceful protest,” Trudeau said during a news conference with Senegal President Macky Sall.
“But we are also a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are respected.”
Trudeau’s remarks, echoed by Canada’s transportation and finance ministers throughout the day, drew scorn from Indigenous protesters backing the Wet’suet’en hereditary chiefs.
Herb Varley, who helped organize a blockade at the Port of Vancouver, accused Trudeau of “mindlessly parroting” the term rule of law, which he said is empty rhetoric.
If his elders had followed the rule of law, he said their language would have died out.
“If my Nisga’a grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties and uncles had followed the rule of law, we wouldn’t know we were Nisga’a,” he said outside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, where he and other protesters announced they were challenging an injunction served against them over the weekend.
Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C.
The blockades were erected after the RCMP enforced a court injunction last week against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of a $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project.
Another group of supporters took to the streets in Ottawa on Wednesday morning, moving from the office of the federal justice minister into a major intersection near the Supreme Court of Canada. The crowd caused a traffic jam that backed up vehicles for blocks, but the delay was cleared in less than an hour as protesters dispersed.
Similar protests in Vancouver tied up traffic at different points of the city throughout the day.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said anti-pipeline demonstrators who prevented people from entering the legislature for his government’s throne speech on Tuesday need to respect the rights of others.
Western producers worry about railway protest impacts
“Peaceful demonstration is fundamental to our success as a democracy,” he told a news conference in Victoria on Wednesday.
“But to have a group of people say to others you are illegitimate, you are not allowed in here, you are somehow a sellout to the values of Canadians is just plain wrong, and I want to underline that.”
The economic impact of the demonstrations has started to crystallize: Canadian National Railway Co. warned Tuesday that it would have to close “significant” parts of its network unless blockades on its rail lines were removed.
Passenger rail services have also been affected in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., with Via Rail cancelling service on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes until at least the end of the day on Friday because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.
It had previously cancelled service on those routes until the end of the day on Thursday.
Via has also said a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., means normal rail service is being interrupted between Prince Rupert and Prince George.
In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister said the Justice Department will seek an injunction to end a rail blockade west of Winnipeg and have it enforced within a few days.
Freeland confronted by pipeline protesters in Halifax
“As much as we will always respect the right of protesters to have a voice, they don’t have a veto and … they don’t have the right to put their rights ahead of everyone else and to disregard the laws of our province and country,” he said in an interview.
The Alberta wheat and barley commissions said rail disruptions of just a few days will cause economic loss for farmers, who have faced difficult harvest conditions.
“Delays will result in farmers being unable to deliver their grain, meaning they can’t be paid at least until service resumes,” said Dave Bishop, chair of the barley commission.
“We are still recovering from the harvest from hell and need reliable grain movement in order to get back on track.”
Mohawks at a barricade that has disrupted rail traffic near Montreal said they’ll remain in place as long as the RCMP is present on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Tekarontake, a Kahnawake Mohawk, said the conflict is the result of a failure by governments and others to accept that the land belongs to the people who continue to adhere to the ways of their ancestors.
“That’s whose land this is, we have never disconnected ourselves from our mother. This land is our mother,” he said.
“We haven’t abandoned her, we still love her, we care for her and we will defend her to the best of our ability.”
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Transport Minister Marc Garneau is “seized” with the blockades affecting railways.
“Our economy really relies on our ability to safely transport goods across the country,” he said.
Asked how he could assure industry that natural resource projects can proceed in Canada, O’Regan said there will always be differing opinions.
“As we work toward net zero (emissions) by 2050 and considering we are an economy that relies heavily on natural resources and natural resource development, there’s always going to be that friction. There will always be that tension.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
COVID-19 on flights: More trips added to B.C.'s exposure warning list – CTV News Vancouver
Several more flights have been added to B.C.’s COVID-19 exposure list, with passengers being warned they should self-monitor for symptoms of the disease.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control posted details about the latest flights Monday evening. All four are domestic and either departed from or landed at Vancouver International Airport.
The flights most recently added to the BCCDC’s list are:
- Sept. 18 – Air Canada flight 122 from Vancouver to Toronto (rows 13 to 19)
- Sept. 19 – Air Canada flight 303 from Montreal to Vancouver (rows four to eight)
- Sept. 22 – Air Canada flight 304 from Vancouver to Montreal (rows 22 to 28)
- Sept. 24 – Air Canada flight 123 from Toronto to Vancouver (rows 20 to 24)
Passengers seated in the specified rows may be at a greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus, the BCCDC says.
More than 50 flights have been added to the BCCDC’s exposure warning list so far this month. Last week, Health Canada said there was no confirmed COVID-19 transmission on domestic flights within Canada, or on international flights to or from Canada.
Health officials in B.C. no longer directly contact people who were seated near someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Instead, health authorities post notices online about flights with confirmed cases.
COVID-19 in B.C.: Vancouver care home dealing with second outbreak – CTV News Vancouver
A second outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at a West End seniors’ home.
Haro Park Seniors Centre said in an email to families Tuesday that a resident from the Amber Lane area tested positive for the disease at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The care home says there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the building.
“As a result of the outbreak being declared, we will be in full outbreak protocols as we were in the spring,” the email from the care home reads.
Haro Park says its team is fully stocked with personal protective equipment and disinfecting products and says it is “well prepared.”
All social visits from family are suspended until further notice.
A previous outbreak of the coronavirus at Haro Park was declared over in May. Eleven residents died and dozens more got sick after the first case at the facility was detected and announced on March 18.
At the time, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry described the outbreak as one of B.C.’s “first and most difficult care facility outbreaks.”
On Monday, Henry announced three new health-care facility outbreaks had been detected, including a second outbreak at Holy Family Hospital. Health officials said there were 13 active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living facilities and three in acute care facilities.
Tuesday’s COVID-19 update will be delivered in a written statement sometime in the afternoon.
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U.S. President Donald Trump would not say during his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday if he will urge his supporters to stay calm in the event of a contested election in November.
Asked by moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said he is urging people to be poll watchers to stop fraudulent activity both in polling places and with mail-in ballots, which Trump has repeatedly said will be a “disaster.”
“I hope it’s going to be a fair election. If it’s a fair election, I am 100 per cent on board,” Trump said. “But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”
“What does that mean?” Wallace asked. “Does that mean you’re going to urge your people to take to the streets?”
“It means you have a fraudulent election,” Trump replied.
“These people aren’t equipped to handle it, number one. Number two, they cheat,” he continued.
Biden, when asked the same question, promised to not declare victory until the election results are independently certified.
“Here’s the deal: we count the ballots,” he said. “Some of these ballots in some states can’t even be opened until Election Day. And if there’s thousands of ballots it’s going to take time to do it.”
Trump also said he’s counting on the Supreme Court to settle any dispute in the final electoral count. By that time, the court will likely include Trump’s third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, creating an unbreakable conservative majority if the Republican-led Senate votes to confirm her before Nov. 3.
“I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” he said. “I hope we don’t need them in terms of the election itself, but for the ballots I think so.”
Trump has already refused to confirm whether he’ll accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.
For months, the president, Attorney General Bill Barr and other fellow Republicans have argued that mail-in ballots — which is being expanded or introduced in nearly every state due to the novel coronavirus pandemic — will lead to widespread fraud, while providing little concrete evidence. They have voiced support for solicited absentee ballots, which Trump himself has used to vote.
While Trump tried to point to examples of election fraud during the debate, those were full of mischaracterizations. A story about a group of Trump’s so-called poll watchers being turned away from an office in Philadelphia, for example, was due to many reasons beyond hiding fraud, local media has pointed out.
Biden pointed out during the debate that members of the military have been voting by mail since the Civil War, and refuted Trump and Republicans’ arguments that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.
“Why is it for them somehow not fraudulent,” Biden asked, speaking of military members. “It’s the same process. It’s honest.”
Biden closed by promising that not only would he accept the results if he loses, but so would Trump.
“Once the winner is declared and all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that’ll be the end of it,” he said.
“If we get the votes, he’s going to go. He can’t stay in power. It won’t happen. So vote,” he said earlier, directly addressing the camera.
Source: – Global News
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