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ROTHENBURGER: Who’s going to tell RCMP what to do about the blockades?

(Image: Justin Trudeau, Facebook)

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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7758 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ROTHENBURGER: Who’s going to tell RCMP what to do about the blockades?

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // February 24, 2020 at 6:26 PM // Reply

    Further to T Brummel’s post above, the following will help to educate the rest of us as to why the Canadian Govt. was/is treading carefully. It IS a matter of Law. The Wet’suwet’en took their land rights issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (Delgamuukw 1997) was the landmark decision can inform us by “googling” it to learn the FACTS. The following is a Precedent-setting case:
    The Delgamuukw decision stemmed from a 1984 case launched by the leaders of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations, who took the provincial government to court to establish jurisdiction over 58,000 square kilometres of land and water in northwest British Columbia.

    In 1991, B.C.’s Supreme Court ruled that any rights the First Nations may have had over the land were legally extinguished when British Columbia became part of Canada in 1871. The Nations appealed and eventually the case made its way into the Supreme Court of Canada, which found treaty rights could not be extinguished, confirmed oral testimony is as legitimate as other forms of evidence and stated Indigenous title rights include not only land, but the right to extract resources from the land.

    Six landmark rulings on Indigenous rights:
    The case has been widely cited as an influencing factor in future court decisions, including the 2014 Tishqot’in decision which further established the existence of Indigenous title to non-treatied land in British Columbia.

  2. The RCMP ( Royal Colonial Mounted Police ) are an arm of the law courts and not of the government. They may be sympathetic to government requests but are not subject to Trudeau’s fits. If Trudeau wants armed action on the protest lines his main option is the military.They would of course have to declare “Military law. .A step not taken since his father in the 1971 Quebec crisis and the OKA mess Created by stepping on First Nations title and rights. In that one a person was killed. More by accident than anything else . Similar occurances have happened many times across the land. The solution ???? The government must stop lying and show respect for the people who have lived here for thousands of years and feel that they have a right to live their own life on their own terms.They are right.!!!

  3. If you get an address for me, Mel, I will write to them. I have sent material to the RCMP before and they have been remarkable with a timely response.
    They might listen to an average joe citizen just as much as to politicians.

  4. The police and the army experiment has been tried before and it is currently in use pretty much all over the world. Who’s going to tell who the experiment is working and making the world a better place? We are one order away from become a little more a police state…obey the “law” or else…

  5. Dave Monsees // February 24, 2020 at 4:42 AM // Reply

    While our government procrastinates, on the blockade issue, who is covering the monies in lost revenues, by the rail road and truckers that couldn’t get through? Who is covering the loss in wages to workers that couldn’t get to work? Is there a form number they should get to claim against the First Nations Finance Dept? Or should this claim be sent to the Provincial or Federal Government? I thought that as you say, the RCMP were paid to enforce the laws. Maybe the claims should be sent to their Finance Dept. What wold happen if 15 or 20 white people covered their faces with masks and blocked the rail yards in Kamloops… or the Trans Canada Hwy? Easier yet, what would happen if we blocked one of the bridges in town? Right ! We are afraid of the Indians, but stomp your feet on the whites ! There may be a law, but so what.

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