OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the Mounties have left the site of a disputed natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia, but he appeared to dismiss the notion that police will move completely out of the vast Wet’suwet’en territory.
The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation at the heart of ongoing countrywide rail and road disruptions have said they will not end their protest of the Coastal GasLink pipeline until the RCMP leave their territory entirely and the pipeline company ceases work in the area.
Blair told reporters this morning the RCMP, which is under contract to police provincially in B.C., has removed its officers from an access road to a work site for the pipeline and stationed them in the nearby town of Houston, about 300 kilometres west of Prince George, B.C.
But when it comes to the call to remove RCMP presence entirely from the 22,000 square kilometres of the nation’s traditional territory, Blair says the thousands of Canadians who live in this area have a right to be protected by police.
Blair says he is optimistic about dialogue taking place between the Wet’suwet’en chiefs and provincial officials and that there is hope of resolving the issues still in dispute.
Nevertheless, he says officials remain “very anxious” for the barricades to come down.