OTTAWA – POLITICS – The leaders of the Liberal Party, Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois and Elizabeth May of the Green Party all spoke today in the House of Commons on the ongoing and growing issues with Wet’suwet’en and Coastal Gaslink.
The Prime Minister says the solution will not be simple, and that it has taken a long time to get to this point.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says, “Justin Trudeau has failed to act as illegal blockades are shutting down our country.”
As divided as Canada appears with supporters of the Wet’suwet’en saying #reconciliationisdead which is a trending hashtag on Twitter, it appears the frustration between Andrew Scheer and the Prime Minister could be even wider.
The Conservative Leader was not invited to attend PMO organized meeting between federal party leaders and Prime Minister Trudeau on the protests. Prime Minister Trudeau says “Mr. Scheer disqualified himself from construction discussion with his unacceptable speech today”.
Here are the Prime Minister’s comments in the House of Commons:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: I want to begin by recognizing that we are on the ancestral land of the Algonquin people. Mr. Speaker, over the past few weeks, people have been troubled by what they are witnessing. Young, old, Indigenous, newcomers – people are asking themselves what is happening in our country. As they see protests and blockades, they are questioning if reconciliation is still possible. Indigenous peoples are wondering if their rights will be respected.
Many are impatient about climate action and a society that still relies on fossil fuels. Many, who rely on jobs in the resources industry to support their kids. They are asking what it all means for our future.
The worker who has been temporarily laid off, the senior who is thinking about if their medication will be delivered, the protester defending their community in the cold, the officer on the other side of the barricade, they are asking what lies ahead. For themselves. For their communities. For Canada. They know that these protests are serious. That this is a critical moment for our country and our future. And so do I. On all sides, people are upset and frustrated. I get it. It’s understandable because this is about things that matter: rights and livelihoods, the rule of law, and our democracy.
It is time – past time – for this situation to be resolved. But what we are facing was not created overnight. It was not created because we have embarked down a path of reconciliation recently in our history. It is because for too long in our history – for too many years – we failed to do so. So finding a solution will not be simple. It will take determination, hard work, and cooperation. There is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. And today, as Prime Minister, I am once again formally extending my hand in partnership and trust.
Over the last 11 days, our government has been working on a path forward, even as many are saying we should give up because we know what is at stake. We know that we cannot afford to fail. So we are creating a space for peaceful, honest dialogue with willing partners. As we heard this morning, from Mohawk leaders and National Chief Perry Bellegarde, we need to resolve this through dialogue and mutual respect.
To the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk Nations and Indigenous leaders across the country – we are listening. We are not asking that you stop standing up for your communities, your rights, and for what you believe. We only ask that you be willing to work with the federal government as a partner in finding solutions. You remind us, rightly so, that too often trust has been betrayed in the history of Indigenous negotiations with Canadian governments. In fact, that is at the heart of why we are facing this situation today. But our common ground is the desire to arrive at a solution. We cannot resolve this alone. Just like we need Indigenous leaders to be partners, we also need all Canadians to show resolve and collaboration. Everyone has a stake in getting this right.
Over the weekend, the Minister of Indigenous Services met with representatives from Tyendinaga, as well as other members of the Mohawk Nation. And I have committed to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs that the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations will meet with them anytime, and I hope the offer will be accepted. This is our opportunity, now, to bring these perspectives together. Because what is the alternative? Do we want to become a country of irreconcilable differences? Where people talk but refuse to listen? Where politicians are ordering police to arrest people? A country where people think they can tamper with rail lines and endanger lives? This is simply unacceptable. We cannot solve these problems on the margins. That is not the way forward. I know that people’s patience is running short. We need to find a solution. And we need to find it now.
I have spoken in this House about how my father faced protests over the debate about Aboriginal and treaty rights in the Constitution. Over 30 years later, many of these questions still linger, which is why our pace of change must be even faster. And not only in this situation. Despite having invested more than any other government to right historical wrongs, to close persistent gaps, we know that there is still more to be done. It is unacceptable that there are people who do not have access to clean drinking water. That Indigenous women and girls still go missing and are murdered. That there are people without housing and good education. It is unacceptable that Indigenous peoples are still denied rights and lands. Mr. Speaker, we need to keep finding solutions. And that can only happen by working together and by listening.
Some would have us act in haste. Who want to boil this down to slogans, and ignore the complexities. Who think that using force is helpful- It is not. Patience may be in short supply, and that makes it more valuable than ever. Mr. Speaker, in this country, we are facing many important and profound debates. Debates about the future livelihoods of our children, the future of our environment, of relations with countries around the world. We are positioning on things that are fundamental at a time of anxiety. And more and more, Canadians are impatient to see those answers. More and more, people are frustrated that there is such uncertainty. More and more, we see those debates carried with increasing intensity on the margins of our democratic conversations.
The place for these debates is here in this House. The place for these debates is around kitchen tables and community centres in this country. And yes, there is always a place for Canadians to protest and express their frustrations. But we need to ensure that we are also listening to each other. We need to address the reality of populism, Mr. Speaker, and it’s siren song in our democracies these days. A desire to listen only to oneself and the people who agree with them. And not with people of another perspective. The concern with action before discussion. We need a reasonable debate in this place. It is at the centre of what we have to continue to move forward as a country.
On Indigenous rights, climate action, law and order, building a clean economy. We will not achieve these things by degrading our democracy. We must be honest about why we are here. We must be open to working together to move forward. And not just in the days ahead. But as we make progress on everything from implementing Indigenous rights and title, addressing historical wrongs, and ending long-term drinking water advisories. As a country and a government, we still have work to do. And we will continue to walk this road.
To everyone I say, we are extending our hands in good faith, for dialogue. The opportunity is there on the table before us right now. We are in this together. The worker, the senior, the Indigenous leader, the protester, the police officer. Let’s have the courage to take this opportunity to take action together. And to build a better path.