Climate activists arrested in David Eby's office; RCMP orders others out of Jonathan Wilkinson's office
Two high-profile provincial and federal politicians received a blunt message from environmentalists on Tuesday (January 28): stop giving a green light to fossil-fuel projects that are increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, threatening the future of human beings and countless other species.
Twenty-five members of Our Time Vancouver, UBCc350, and the UBC Social Justice Centre occupied Attorney General David Eby's constituency office on West Broadway.
Extinction Rebellion Vancouver held a smaller demonstration in the North Vancouver constituency office of Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
Police arrived at both locations in the evening, roughly around the same time.
According to UBCc350, three young activists who were in Eby's office were arrested and charged with mischief.
None of the protesters in Wilkinson's office were arrested.
While the occupation was underway on West Broadway, Our Time Vancouver, UBCc350, and the UBC Social Justice Centre issued a statement saying this action was taken in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose hereditary chiefs continue to oppose the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink project.
The 670-kilometre pipeline will deliver fracked natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a yet-to-be-built LNG Canada plant near Kitimat.
"We follow the leadership of the Wet'suwet'en Nation and the Indigenous youth arrested in Victoria and urge David Eby to use his position as attorney general to uphold his government's commitment and legal obligations to respect the free, prior, and informed consent of the Wet'suwet'en Nation," Our Time and UBCc350 organizer Kate Hodgson said in a news release.
UBC Social Justice Centre organizer Gabby Doebeli said in the same statement that the demonstrators "refuse to accept the shameful status quo of colonial extraction and violence alongside empty words of reconciliation".
Doebeli alleged that the actions of the RCMP, the federal and provincial governments, and Coastal GasLink violate Wet'suwet'en law, Canadian law, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Earlier this month, Coastal GasLink obtained an extension on a civil injunction in B.C. Supreme Court against protesters who "have obstructed lawfully permitted activity". Justice Marguerite Church ruled that "their recourse to self-help remedies is contrary to the rule of law".
Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs rejected that ruling and issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink on unceded traditional Wet'suwet'en territory.
The company has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations chiefs and councils along the pipeline route. Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, on the other hand, say that these elected Indigenous politicians only have authority over reserve lands created under the Indian Act, and not over unceded territories.
The 25 demonstrators had planned to remain in Eby's office until their demands were met. However, the protest ended when police arrived and handcuffed some young people.
The Extinction Rebellion Vancouver protesters also expressed solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs but they also wanted to send a message about Teck's proposed $20.6-billion open-pit bitumen mine near Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta.
The Vancouver-based mining giant is seeking federal approval to extract up to 260,000 barrels per day. According to the company, the Frontier Project could generate four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Wilkinson, as the environment and climate change minister, still hasn't issued a decision on the project, which has the strong support of the Alberta provincial government.
Last month, long-time environmentalist Tzeporah Berman wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian raising serious concerns about the Frontier Project's emissions.
On January 28, she expressed surprise in a tweet that she had been blocked by Wilkinson on Twitter.
Wilkinson subsequently apologized to Berman, declaring that the decision to block her was a "mistake".