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

Just Posted

Conservation: Two elk unlawfully shot in Northern Vancouver Island

‘The elk also did not have all of the edible portions of meat removed’

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Port Hardy’s annual summer festival FILOMI Days cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Port Hardy’s biggest community celebration happens every year from July 17 to 19.

Reflecting on life during a pandemic

‘This is really a once in a lifetime moment where everything has come to a grinding halt’

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

N95 masks on the way for Canada after 3M reaches deal with White House

The Trump White House had ordered 3M to stop shipping masks to Canada

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

Most Read