“As the B.C. Supreme Court rightly concluded, it does not mean Indigenous law trumping Canadian law at the behest of some self-anointed Indigenous aristocrats.”
– John Ivison, National Post
The latest dilemma of blockades across the country demonstrate a lack of leadership at virtually every level of government, including Indigenous governments.
Firstly, there is the Wet’suwet’en band itself. There are 20 elected band councils that have all endorsed the Coastal GasLink pipeline, yet a few hereditary chiefs feel their interests trump the elected councils. As Wet’suwet’en member Philip Tait said recently: “Right now, this is probably got one of the biggest job creations in the province here, and we want to be part of it.”
Then there is the problem that the hereditary chiefs oppose Coastal GasLink. Apparently five chiefs oppose it and the three female chiefs who support the pipeline were stripped of their titles. As deposed chief Theresa Tait-day said in support: “We want to share our (land) wealth, we want to live in prosperity.”
And further there is a lack of leadership within the police forces. The RCMP in British Columbia have been acting on the court injunction issued in December. Now with the railway blockades in Ontario, the CN police, the Ontario Police Force and the RCMP have done nothing to stop the blockades for weeks.
Even at the larger level of First Nations there is no leadership. Within their organization they do not appear to agree on anything. The national organization does not speak with one voice, rather every band speaks for itself. They want reconciliation, but this kind of spontaneous, disorganized action brings an end to that concept because they have an obligation to obey the law; it is now up to them to come to the table, or else reconciliation will get nowhere!
And lastly and most importantly, there is a total lack of leadership at the federal level. Prime Minister Trudeau was waltzing around Africa buying off African chiefs to support Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. He is conflicted by the issue of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and does not want to lose UN support by appearing to be unsupportive of that shallow edict. He is passing the buck, saying this is a provincial matter while the national railway network half a continent away has come to a halt bringing the shipment of essential goods and services to a halt. This is not a provincial crisis – it’s a national crisis, actually it’s a crisis of leadership!
Trudeau speaks of the ‘rule of law’. He doesn’t even know what that means, he only uses that phrase when he doesn’t haven’t a clue what to do. The ‘rule of law’ is in the court injunction which gives the RCMP the authority to arrest the hereditary chiefs in defiance of the law. Their defiance is contempt of court. The Federal Court has recently ruled that there is a need for consultation, but Indigenous people do not have a veto.
Our democracy is turning into a mobocracy!
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA.