RCMP offer to pull back are ‘clear steps to de-escalation’ says Indigenous Services minister

Members of Parliament again debated the situation between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, protests across the country and a rail system that is only operating sporadically Thursday in Ottawa.

There was a sign of movement as the RCMP said that, with conditions attached, it would move off the Wet’suwet’en territory to a nearby detachment.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he was “heartened” by the new development of the RCMP and that it is a step forward and presents an opportunity to continue dialogue.

“This is a positive development. The move of the hereditary Wet’suwet’en Chiefs to Tyendinaga is a positive development. I think everyone in this house is dedicated to a peaceful resolution,” Miller said.

Miller also said there are “clear steps to de-escalation.”

He said himself and Minister of Crown and Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett stand ready to engage with leadership in Tyendinaga anytime to discuss a peaceful resolution

But Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Smogelgem responded to the news about the RCMP on Twitter saying, “Their harassment of our people and supporters continues. Now they’ll simply base their Mounties out of the local town of Houston. They are trying to instruct us to continue letting CGL do their work and ignore the eviction that we served them with. OUR EVICTION STANDS!”

In the house of commons, the official opposition hammered away at the government demanding that the Liberals send in the RCMP to remove the protesters.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl from B.C, said Canada is showing weakness.

“I think the RCMP should enforce the court injunction and they can decide how they do that,” Strahl said. “But they should get a signal from the government that we expect court injunctions to be enforced and upheld.”

But the RCMP don’t have jurisdiction in many of areas where the protests are taking place. For instance, outside Belleville, Ont., where Tyendinaga Mohawks have set up adjacent to the tracks owned by CN Rail, the Ontario Provincial Police are the responsible force.


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Carolyn Bennett said the RCMP stating that they’ll leave the Wet’suwet’en territory is a promising gesture and enforcing the injunction now would be unwise.

“I believe we have learned from the crises at Oka and Ipperwash and Caledonia and Gustafson Lake,” said Bennett. “And I believe that the police also understand their role in that.”

“Last year we said that we never want to see again images of the police using force in an Indigenous community in order to keep the peace.”

The NDP have stated the same position that Canada needs to be careful and during question period, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the Wet’suwet’en have been asking for months to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“They want to meet with the Prime Minister specifically. So my question is very simple. Will the prime minister meet the Chiefs of the hereditary region for the Wet’suwet’en?” Singh asked.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.