Home Government and Politics Railway crisis: ministers still say they are ready to discuss
Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said negotiations have never stopped on The West Block scaled e1582498280865
Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said negotiations have never stopped on The West Block scaled e1582498280865

Railway crisis: ministers still say they are ready to discuss

Federal ministers came to the front to reiterate that the federal government remains ready to speak with Aboriginal leaders to end the crisis that is crippling rail traffic in the country

Speaking on the West Block on Global, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said negotiations have never stopped, despite impatience on the part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday. 

“At no time did we stop the negotiations,” she said.

The dialogues are productive and all parties are progressing well, added Minister Bennett. 

This federal media offensive comes at a time when the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation are due to return to British Columbia after visiting Mohawk communities in eastern Canada. 

The demonstrators who occupy railway tracks in a sign of solidarity with these chiefs who oppose a gas pipeline project passing over their ancestral territory gave no sign that they intended to abandon their blockade. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday called for the immediate dismantling of railroad barricades. He insisted that his government was open to dialogue and still engaged in the process of reconciliation with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en. However, these negotiation attempts have stalled. 

Minister Bennett defended the idea of maintaining communication channels to continue discussions and to withdraw the RCMP territory of Wet’suwet’en. “[These are] really important criteria to help us get through this difficult period and get on the right track.” 

For its part, the Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair, maintained the course set by Mr. Trudeau. He, in turn, demanded the dismantling of the barricades while affirming the government’s will to dialogue. He urged the hereditary chiefs to return to the negotiating table. 

“We all understand the importance of a peaceful resolution, but a quick resolution, because the impact of these barricades is unacceptable, untenable,” he told CTV’s Question Period. It cannot be maintained due to the inconvenience this causes. We trust the police to do the job peacefully.” 

According to him, it is the responsibility of the police in each jurisdiction to deal with the blockades. Mr. Blair is not anxious to send soldiers to expel demonstrators from the railways. 

“It is never appropriate to use the Armed Forces against Canadians anywhere in the country,” he said. The military plays an essential in this country, but so does the police.” 

Terms

Chief Na’Moks said Sunday that talks with the Mohawks to dismantle the barricade at Tyendinaga were progressing well before Trudeau’s speech, which he described as “antagonistic and ill-informed”.

PHOTO LARS HAGBERG, THE CANADIAN PRESS
The barricade erected in Tyendinaga

“If the Prime Minister had not delivered the speech, the Mohawks would have dismantled everything,” he said on Sunday. They were ready, we were on the phone.” 

The five hereditary chiefs are scheduled to meet in northern British Columbia on Monday to plan the next steps. Negotiations with the RCMP will resume Thursday at the earliest, added Na’Moks. 

He said the chiefs will not back down on their requests to withdraw all RCMP mobile units from kilometer 29 of highway 16. 

“The local detachment can handle patrols. It is the agents who come here on a weekly basis that we want to see go.” 

The RCMP was not available to comment on the situation. 

Protesters continue to block a major Canadian National rail line east of Belleville, Ontario. They support the hereditary chiefs who oppose the project, despite the support given to it by elected band councils. 

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