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: Online tool helps vulnerable people in North Okanagan receive aid

United Way’s tool connects those in need with pre-screened volunteers in the local area

Woman raised in Salmon Arm on COVID-19 frontline with field hospital in Italy

Bev Kauffeldt is leading a medical team at the temporary hospital run by Samaritan’s Purse

COVID-19: Staying home in Salmon Arm is difficult when you don’t have one

As the snow flies, people without homes talk about how tough life is

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Presence of auxiliary volunteers missed at Salmon Arm hospital during pandemic

Shuswap Lake Health Care Auxiliary still chips in two iPads so patients can connect with families

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Colouring book will feature images of Summerland

Project is a joint initiative of Summerland Museum and Summerland Community Arts Council

KGH Foundation establishes COVID-19 response fund to support frontline workers

Doctors, nurses and staff have been challenged to pivot operations to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Food support continues for Okanagan students despite school closures

Kids aren’t going hungry thanks to Kal Rotary and Starfish Backpack program

WATCH: A wall of mist sits over Lake Okanagan as seen from Peachland

The video was captured by a Peachland resident on April 2

Most Read