EDMONTON – Alberta politicians are returning to the legislature with a promise of new legislation targeting protesters who set up blockades.
Premier Jason Kenney says he plans to table a bill today that would create stiffer penalties for “anyone who riots on or who seeks to impair critical economic infrastructure, including railways.”
The United Conservative leader has been critical of protesters who have set up blockades on rail lines in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose a natural gas pipeline project on their land in British Columbia.
Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en set up a blockade on a CN rail line on the edge of Edmonton last week.
Kenney says the blockades have cost jobs and hurt the economy, and are also in part to blame for Teck Resources Ltd. shelving its massive mine project in the province.
Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell is to deliver the traditional speech from the throne in the afternoon.
The premier says a second bill will be introduced in the coming days that would allow the public to pose questions on provincial referendums.
“If there are questions that people think politicians or the legislature are not willing to address or to take on, the Citizens Initiative law which we will introduce in the days to come will empower the people of Alberta to put on the ballot a vote on critical issues about our future,” Kenney said Monday.
Finance Minister Travis Toews is to table the budget on Thursday.