Diane Francis: Get to work, Trudeau, and blockade the blockades

Diane Francis: Get to work, Trudeau, and blockade the blockades

A Canadian Prime Minister has two principal responsibilities: maintaining law and order and economic prosperity. Unfortunately, Canada’s incumbent has been missing in action.

On Feb. 6, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the country on non-essential business (to lobby for votes to get a worthless UN Security Council seat). His absence, in conjunction with his disastrous anti-development policies and appeasement toward Indigenous leaders, turned a dispute in late December over a pipeline into a full-blown secession crisis across the country. Indigenous and anti-resource development radicals now block railways in solidarity and the economy reels.

And throughout this calamity, Trudeau remained abroad and psychologically on the sidelines, along with his government.

Now he has cut short his tour of folly, by cancelling a chance to lobby Caribbean nations in Barbados for that worthless UN Security Council seat. But once back, he must change attitude and course.

The crisis is not about a pipeline. It has arisen due to faint or non-existent leadership. Any strong leader, corporate or governmental, would immediately cancel auxiliary trips or extraneous duties in the face of a serious situation such as this one. Any strong leader would not spout bromides about “rule of law” from afar, but would be home executing an effective course of action to stop the lawlessness and prevent further escalation.

But, in the absence of leadership, many among Canada’s 634 First Nations now assert that they are fully sovereign and above the law. This means that the very first order of business for the returning Prime Minister is to make it clear that they are not sovereign and they are not above the laws of the land, irrespective of grievances.

Instead, Trudeau’s federal ministers have passed the buck to other levels of government to sort out the mess. The result is a spark that was ignited, concerning a pipeline in B.C., is now a major fire and every day the federal government remains aloof, the flames grow as does damage to Canada’s reputation. Negative media attention internationally spirals.

It must be made clear that there is no legal justification for these railway blockades nor is there any legal basis for this call to action by a group of British Columbia hereditary chieftains over a pipeline that has been approved by 20 First Nations chiefs. From afar, the prime minister has suggested there be “dialogue” — a vague word that signals that he has no plan or even an inkling that he has one.

But here’s what leadership should do. Any discussions, or “dialogue,” are premature until the First Nations leaders and their followers stand down from their illegal actions. This is essential in order to demonstrate that discussions or “dialogue” are even worth pursuing with those involved in breaking the law.

If they do not — and some will not because they believe that Canada is not legitimately sovereign over their traditional lands — the only strategy is for the police or military to blockade the blockades. Armed perimeters should be established around “protests” areas, and nothing, and no person, should be allowed inside until they stand down. Communications should be shut down within the perimeter.

This will avoid violent confrontations, and will eventually impede the spread of blockades. But if this does not work, and radicals push back in defiance of court orders to desist, or aggressively try to breach the police blockade, then law enforcement must protect the public.

Lobbying for votes in Africa, and hobnobbing in Munich, or blaming the provinces, makes everything worse. The prime minister must sternly uphold the rule of law, and protect Canada’s lawful economic and resource development.

Let’s hope he does. But so far this year Canadians can only conclude that if you’re not there, then you don’t care.

Fibioreportscial Post

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