Derek Sloan to Justin Trudeau: The rule of law must prevail

Written By Derek Sloan, Posted on February 20, 2020

As a Conservative leadership hopeful, and also the MP where the main Ontario rail blockade is occurring (the Tyendinega blockade is in my riding), I am appalled by the lack of political leadership and action by the government on this file. 

I have met with Ministers Marc Miller and Bill Blair, participated in a late-night debate on the issue in the House of Commons, and have heard several sides of this debate. 

Listening to the words of Minister Miller, it seems that he is relating these protests to every single issue the Indigenous have historically faced and are continuing to face (discrimination, clean water, etc.). The protestors in Tyendinaga were clear – their issue is the RCMP presence on territory in BC. If the protests, and the governments lacklustre response, is predicated on every issue facing indigenous communities, then there is no hope of resolving this blockade. The issues the Minister raised would take months and years to resolve. While these issues should be high on the priority list of Canadian politics, we cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage by an unlawful protest. If we do, it will happen again and again. The rule of law demands action. 

Not only are these blockade illegal they run counter to the majority of affected Indigenous people on the trail of the pipeline, the majority of which approve of the project, and urgently await the economic benefits of participating in the construction of the pipeline. 

If news reports are correct, eco-protestors have hijacked (organized) these protests and attached themselves to this pipeline protest, not for any particular concern about Indigenous sovereignty, but because they oppose any and all resource development. Once their purpose is accomplished, they will simply leave, and the Indigenous leaders who voted for this pipeline will be left angry and penniless, used and abused. In the words of Chief Larry Nooski, Nadleh Whut’en: 

Coastal GasLink represents a once in a generation economic development opportunity for Nadleh Whut’en First Nation… We negotiated hard to guarantee that Nadleh people, including Youth, have the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from the project, while at the same time, ensuring that the land and water is protected… 

Every single person in this country has the right to freedom of speech and to the freedom to protest, no matter how much one might disagree with their message. 

But no one has the right to shut down our railways and ports, to block everyday Canadians from getting to and from work, and to prevent businesses and farmers from getting their goods to market. 

The Prime Minister’s weak response to this national crisis has been a complete abdication of leadership. He has emboldened and encouraged this kind of behaviour by cancelling other big projects based on political considerations rather than science or facts. 

And now radical activists, many of whom have no connection to the Wet’suwet’en people, are holding Canada’s economy hostage. According to Hereditary Chief Theresa Tait-Day of Wet’suwet’en Nation, 85% of her people want the GasLink project. 

Many things must be done to improve the lives of the Indigenous in Canada. Whatever its imperfections, Canada is a great nation and together we can strive to find solutions and remedies that are fair and just for all. We can and we must do this without coercive mobs, extortion and threats of violence. 

The solution to this crisis centres on the rule of law. The law should be equally applied, intelligible, and predictable. No one can be above the law, it must apply to everyone. And finally, the law must be enforced. 

Should we allow these protesters to subvert the law based on their beliefs, we will open up the floodgates for any group to sabotage Canada and we will descend into anarchy. 

According to S.5 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, “the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…under the direction of the Minister has the control and management of the Force and all matters connected with the Force.” (emphasis added). 

If directing the police to enforce the law is against the rule of law, we live in an interesting time indeed. 

The rule of law must prevail. Justin Trudeau must pick up the phone and tell Minister Blair to end this chaos.


Derek Sloan

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