An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE SCALE HAS TIPPED irrevocably towards enforcement over dialogue in the Coastal GasLink protests.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says talk has failed, and the blockades are “unacceptable.”
OK, so now what? He gives no indication he’s actually going to do anything about it, and the question is, what could he do?
This drama is being played out by a star-studded cast of characters reading off different scripts; it’s like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine. John Horgan agrees with Trudeau that the protests are unacceptable but says he doesn’t want politicians telling police what to do. That, he says, is up to the courts.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says if he were prime minister he’d direct the RCMP to “enforce the law.”
So far, though, the provincial and federal governments have avoided directing police to do anything. Who’s right — are the RCMP an entity of their own, independent from the political process, or are they an agency of government?
Based on a seemingly unilateral decision by RCMP to back off from the main protest site, and a deadline given Mohawk protesters by Ontario Provincial Police on Sunday, it’s the latter.
Ideologically it warms the cockles to think government in Canada can’t give police orders that may or may not be designed to evoke a political result. After all, we don’t want our country to become a police state.
But the RCMP and provincial police are, after all, paid by us. Decisions about the form policing takes are made by politicians at all levels, including municipal. So, if enforcement is the only remaining option, somebody has to give the order.
I suggest Horgan, Trudeau and police reps get together, decide who’s in charge, and get this situation resolved.
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.