APTN National News
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Tuesday he didn’t choose his words carefully when saying the military could be called in against protesters fighting the expansion of two pipelines the Trudeau government approved last week.
Carr told reporters in Ottawa he regrets the comments he made Thursday to room of business leaders in Edmonton.
“It was not meant to conjure up images … for any community. And if some took it that way, then I’m sorry. I should have been more careful in choosing my words,” Carr said.
Carr said last week Canada will follow the rule of law when business leaders expressed concerns that events unfolding in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation could be replicated through the mounting opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project.
“If people choose for their own reasons not to be peaceful, then the government of Canada—through its defence forces, through its police forces—will ensure that people are kept safe,” said Carr, according to a video of his statements posted by BNN. “We have a history of peaceful dialogue and dissent in Canada. I’m certainly hopeful that tradition will continue. If people determine for their own reasons that that is not the path they want to follow, then we live under the rule of law.”
On Tuesday, Carr said his government embraces dissent.
“I also wanted to make the point that civil disobedience and peaceful protest is very much a part of our history and I should have left it at that,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday at the Assembly of First Nations special assembly that he was “proud” that Carr apologized.
The federal government can’t call in the military into a domestic situation, but provinces can, otherwise known as Aid to the Civil Power under the National Defence Act.
Even if a province asks for military assistance, the federal government has no control over how the deployment unfolds because authority would rest solely with the Canadian Forces’ Chief of Defence Staff.
Carr may say now he didn’t want his comments to conjure up images of the past but that is exactly what happened as Indigenous leaders expressed outrage and speculated, given Ottawa’s limited role in such an event, Carr used the statement to intimidate opposition to the pipeline expansion.
Some called for Carr’s resignation, including Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon, whose Mohawk community was at the centre of the Oka Crisis which saw the military move into its territory to end the standoff.
“I would like to see his resignation,” Simon said, who is also a leading spokesperson for an Indigenous treaty alliance against oil pipeline developments. “I find it offensive and Minister Carr should be ashamed of himself and Prime Minister Trudeau should be ashamed of himself for letting him get away with that.”
Leaders from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation travelled to Ottawa last week to again voice their opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion which will increase tanker traffic through the Burrard Inlet on their doorstep from about 30 to 70 oil tankers a year to about 360 a year from Alberta.
Tsleil-Waututh has vowed to stop the expansion by any means necessary, including court actions. They believe a similar demonstration as seen in North Dakota is inevitable.
Trudeau also announced last week his government approved Enbridge’s $7.5 billion Line 3 pipeline replacement project which will run from Hardisty, Alta., through Neche, ND, to Superior, Wis.
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Tuesday no one wants another Oka.
As for Carr’s apology, Bellegarde said, “Now, we move on.”