A throne speech at the B.C. legislature usually begins with an assembly of police and military members in dress uniform, a 15-gun salute and an inspection by Lieutenant Governor.
The 2020 version has an assembly of police, but they are keeping watch over a sprawling tent camp that has spread across the legislature steps since a group of protesters supporting gas pipeline blockaders near Smithers moved to the site Feb. 6.
The ceremonial arrival and inspection by Lt. Governor Janet Austin Tuesday have been cancelled, as protesters backing a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters at blockades near Smithers plan the latest of a series of rallies to coincide with the speech.
Protesters began blocking all entrances to the legislature Tuesday morning, trying to prevent MLAs, staff and media from entering the building.
The speech to begin the spring session of the legislature sets out the government’s priorities for the coming term. Premier John Horgan has said this session will include legislation to overhaul the Insurance Corp. of B.C., taking most injury disputes out of courts.
The protesters have repeated their demands since occupying the ceremonial entrance of the legislature. They are defying a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to allow construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline from gas fields near Dawson Creek to a new liquefied natural gas export facility at Kitimat.
The project has been approved by the federal and provincial governments, as well as all 20 elected Indigenous councils along the route, including the Wet’suwet’en. Protesters reject the courts and elected officials, calling the RCMP enforcement of the injunction an “invasion.”
Their threats to “shut Canada down” were manifested with blockades at bridges, the Port of Vancouver and other critical infrastructure across Canada.