Talks between the B.C. government and Indigenous leaders intended to de-escalate the conflict over the Coastal GasLink pipeline project have broken down two days before their planned finish.
The discussions, announced by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs on January 30 and scheduled for seven days, were in response to ongoing conflict over a road blockade that prevented Coastal GasLink crews from proceeding with construction on the 670-kilometre pipeline from northeast B.C. to coastal Kitimat.
According to an unusually timed news release issued Tuesday (February 4) evening by Scott Fraser, minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation, both sides "made a committed effort to find a peaceful resolution to the situation".
Fraser went on to say: “While we were not successful in finding a resolution to the current situation, we continue to remain open to dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en leadership on this issue."
The four-term MLA for the Vancouver Island electoral district of Mid Island-Pacific Rim added, in an apparent reference to previous conflict between the RCMP and Indigenous protestors on the Morice Forest Service Road in north-central B.C.: "We hope that the paramount need for safety stays the top priority for all parties."
Chief Smogelgem, one of the hereditary chiefs, tweeted that the province has refused to revoke permits that it had issued to Coastal GasLink.
Coastal GasLink obtained a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against its pipeline adversaries a month ago. The RCMP, which had set up a checkpoint on the service road and blocked access to the Wet'suwet'en protest camp and Unis'tot'en Healing Center, agreed to put off enforcing the injunction for the duration of the talks.
B.C. premier John Horgan announced on January 27 that Skeena-Bulkley Valley MLA Nathan Cullen would be the intermediary in talks between the province, the RCMP, hereditary chiefs, and Coastal GasLink, among others.