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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.