VICTORIA-Premier John Horgan says anti-pipeline protests that saw hundreds of people block entrances to the B.C. legislature are unacceptable and wrong.
Horgan said Wednesday he cancelled a scheduled news conference on Tuesday because he needed 24 hours to consider his thoughts after witnessing hundreds of people blocking entrances to the legislature and hurling verbal abuse at public servants, politicians and members of the media.
“It was unacceptable to me and I know it’s unacceptable to the vast majority of British Columbians,” he said at a news conference.
“Peaceful demonstration is fundamental to our success as a democracy, but to have a group of people say to others you are illegitimate, you are not allowed in here and you are somehow a sellout to the values of Canadians is just plain wrong.”
Victoria police said four people reported assaults during the protests and investigations are ongoing. Three people received non-life-threatening injuries and a fourth person was not injured but equipment that was being carried was reported to have been damaged, police said.
The premier added that after reflection he concluded the government must carry on with its agenda of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, which includes supporting a natural gas pipeline project that he said is supported by many people in northern B.C.
“I believe we’re on the right path and so do countless thousands of Aboriginal Peoples,” Horgan said.
Opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline by hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation has led to protests across Canada including blockades at ports and on railway lines.
Horgan said the right to protest must be guaranteed, but people should not attempt to disrupt and drown out the views of others.
“They have to understand that the broader community has rights as well,” he said. “You need to allow other people to have their liberty.”
The RCMP arrested more than two dozen people last week while enforcing an injunction against people blocking access to the pipeline construction area near Houston.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2020.