EDITORIAL – Forcibly end blockades if necessary, but saving face is better

(Image: CPAC)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU today tried to calm the waters in the Coastal GasLink dispute, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tried to stir them up.

In a debate in the House, Trudeau talked of finding common ground; Scheer talked of “radical activists,” of “the rule of the mob” and of “a failure of leadership.”

So, how do you resolve a conflict when the two sides have diametrically opposed objectives?

One side demands that the pipeline be stopped; the other insists it must go through.

This standoff is somewhat similar to a labour dispute, in which the union vows to stay on strike as long as it takes and the employer insists it can’t budge. But all labour disputes end.

Clearly, the current protests — at least the ones that ignore court orders and interfere with transportation — can’t be allowed to continue for long. The economic and social health of the country is being eroded and if blockades continue, they’ll beget more blockades.

At some point, politicians and the courts will to have to put their feet down and police will have to “move in” with force. Obviously, they must do it with care and respect, and avoid physical confrontation.

Arrests, though, serve the purposes of the protesters, who can claim military tactics by police, depict arrests as violent and unnecessary, and use the resulting video to bolster the case for what they see as a righteous cause.
It will, however, be the only option if the current dialogue fails. The alternative, and better, path to resolving this unhappy dispute is to find ways for everybody to save face.

Trudeau’s approach is the right one for now but if this situation persists for many more days, Scheer’s hawkish position will gain traction.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8139 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Forcibly end blockades if necessary, but saving face is better

  1. Tony Brumell // February 18, 2020 at 3:17 PM // Reply

    I just can’t manage the hypocracy of Andrew Scheer saying that ” no one should feel unsafe on their own land”.This in response to a few protesters that showed up at Horgans house and blocked his drive.Apparently Scheer doesn’t consider the same standard to hold for F/N on W’etsuw’tan land who are facing armed mercs on their land actually being targeted in rifle scopes. I can’t imagine what would happens if he were to have to same circumstance occur on his (stolen ) land.

  2. This is just an opinion but I think that Rona Ambrose would have been a good person to have had in a leadership role when this situation took root.
    She too has nice hair.

  3. Sean McGuinness // February 18, 2020 at 9:57 AM // Reply

    I think the only solution is respecting the rights of Wet’suwet’en people and not building the pipeline across their lands. If the pipeline is to be built at all, it should be rerouted. This is not an issue about time or money, this is an issue about respecting the rights of people. Somehow people would understand it if the Swiss objected to us building a pipeline through their beloved alps. Why don’t we understand the objections of First Nations?

  4. Greetings Mel … there certainly are opposing views in this situation.

    In your commentary you state, “Clearly, the current protests — at least the ones that ignore court orders and interfere with transportation — can’t be allowed to continue for long.”

    So let me ask, if at least some of these protests and blockades are ‘ignoring court orders’ why should that be allowed at all — never mind be allowed to continue for ANY
    length of time.

    What started out as a centralized protest, has grown larger and larger, and seen organizers getting more and more brazen in flouting the law.

    It’s human nature to push and see where the boundaries are.

    Up to this point however, Justin Trudeau and the federal government — through their wringing of hands and saying all we need to do is talk and find common ground — has simply told protesters there are none.

  5. Dave Monsees // February 18, 2020 at 9:16 AM // Reply

    Perhaps to test the two theories of Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Sheer, we should gather about 50 Caucasion people from around Kamloops and block the two rail lines as they go through town. I think you should lead us, Mel, and we will see what equality means,and how the RCMP treats a silent protest, a protest in favour of the new pipe lines.

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