AGAR: Trudeau’s tone-deaf and unhelpful response to this crisis

As trains sit idle, as goods sit in warehouses and people make alternate travel plans, guess who isn’t helping?

It is Prime Minister Trudeau, whose statements on the issue have been wrong, tone-deaf and irresponsibly late. How does this help us in any way?

Gallivanting across the world in search of a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Trudeau took the time to answer a question over the weekend on the Indigenous protests that have shut down rail service in Canada.

“Obviously, it’s extremely important to respect the right to freely demonstrate peacefully, but we need to make sure that the laws are respected and that’s why I’m going to be engaging with my ministers and looking at what possible next steps there are,” he said.

By saying that he respects “the right to freely demonstrate peacefully,” he is saying that the current protests shutting down rail service are peaceful, he is mischaracterizing the reality of the situation.

He is wrong. Calls to have the police shut the protests down are met with memories of the Oka crisis in 1990, Ipperwash in 1995 and Caledonia, which stretched over many years starting in 2007.

At Oka, Quebec provincial police officer Cpl. Marcel Lemay was killed, while over 30 were wounded on the police side and more than 75 were wounded on the protester side. At Ipperwash, protester Dudley George was killed.

Caledonia was marked with multiple incidents of violence and extensive property damage. Citizens were forced from their homes and David Brown, a citizen of the disputed area, testified in court that he was required to carry a native-issued passport, needing approval from the protesters to enter his own house. Brown reported that he was arrested by the OPP when he ignored the native’s self-justified rules and “passport.”

It is that history with native protests that informs government and police decisions today, a situation that cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered peaceful.

We know what peaceful demonstrations look like. No one gets hurt. Little to no property damage occurs.

Meanwhile it was just this week that Trudeau finally got around to convening discussions, saying he wants a quick and peaceful result. Where was the urgency 10 days ago?

So with babbling, disingenuous leadership from the top, governments and police are, “willing to talk” with protesters who are more than willing to use violence in defense of their stated aim of ensuring that the Coastal GasLink pipeline will never be built.

Once Canadians are hit harder with lost business and no propane gas, this thing could boil over. Does Trudeau care?