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

COVID-19: Victoria hopes to provide financial relief through property taxes, utility bills

A number of city projects could be deferred in light of pandemic

Housing challenges in Canada complicate efforts to fight COVID-19

Five per cent of all households deemed ‘not suitable’ while other dwellers face other challenges

Swan Lake south wharf demolition complete, area remains off-limits

Sanctuary staff working to ‘re-naturalize’ the south end of the lake

New #yyjegghunt2020 joins the ranks of fun, social distancing activities in Greater Victoria

With hearts and lights illuminating windows and doorways across Greater Victoria as… Continue reading

Victoria Literacy Connection offers free e-reading club for kids

Kids with Grade 2-5 reading levels can join the club

Mental Health: Planning for a crisis

Crisis planning lays out a blueprint in case hard times hit

Emergency COVID-19 funding now available for children with special needs

Funding to be used to help support families through uncertain times of pandemic

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

That includes plans about who will care for them if the owner is hospitalized

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Most Read