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EDITORIAL: Leadership vacuum

ourview

We should be thankful Justin Trudeau cut his international galavant short and returned to Canada to save our country from crisis.

Just look at what our prime minister has accomplished since returning from Africa and Europe where he pleaded for a seat on the United Nations Security Council and shook hands with Iran's foreign minister. More protesters across the country have joined the Wet'suwet'en opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project by blocking rail lines. Angry citizens are brazenly taking it upon themselves to remove the protesters and free up the rail lines because the federal government won't do anything, the RCMP won't do anything, and police forces across the country won't do anything. Our country continues to bleed billions of dollars because goods can't be transported. Job losses continue to mount.

One can't help but wonder if we'd be better off if Trudeau stayed on the road and took his planned Caribbean trip where he could continue to grovel for a UN Security Council seat that most Canadians could give a rip about. He is visibly suffering from paralysis. People are breaking the law, adversely affecting the lives of ordinary Canadians, and our prime minister says dialogue is the way out of the crisis.

The Canadian rule of law is being broken every day these protests are allowed to continue. The rule of law means that the law applies equally to everyone. The right to protest is afforded in a democratic society, but protesters do not have the right to break the law. Blocking Canada's railways is illegal. It has cost people their livelihood, paralyzed the economy and is escalating the probability of violence. So far, Trudeau has placed the rights of the protesters over the rights and interests of the majority of Canadians. They have been allowed to continue their illegal blockades. By doing nothing about it, Trudeau is empowering them. There is no consequence for their illegal actions. The dangerous situation is escalating.

Gazette reporter Jen Henderson, witnessed first-hand what the danger feels like. She was at Wednesday's blockade on Edmonton's western edge when the counter-protesters showed up to remove the protesters and free up the rail line. Tempers flared. The counter-protesters pushed and shoved their way through the blockade. Some shouted "get a job" to the protesters. Racist remarks were hurled. Henderson began to feel unsafe and wondered if the situation was about to get out of hand. She suddenly found herself in the middle of a hostile situation that was unravelling before her eyes.

Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon, who is a chief of a Mohawk community near Oka, Que., joined the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and other Mohawk leaders pleading for peaceful discussions to take precedence over police intervention as rail blockades continue in their communities in Ontario and Quebec. He said the point has been made and continued blockades may erode the progress made on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Simon was locked out of his office for his stance.

We have a leadership vacuum in this country, and that is ultimately more dangerous than any blockade. Trudeau's handling of the situation is being duly noted across the country.