Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has tried to set some minds at ease over how protests will be dealt with at pipeline construction sites. If suggested protests or civil disobedience get unruly, Carr said “we will ensure people are kept safe.”
The minister was speaking at a Alberta Enterprise Group breakfast event at a downtown hotel. Taking questions from the audience he said, “we have a history of peaceful dialog and dissent in Canada. I’m certainly hopeful that tradition will continue. If people determine for their own reasons that that’s not the path they want to follow then we live under the rule of law.”
A concern was raised by Paul De Jong, the president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, about worker safety. The PCAC represents several construction companies De Jong said and have worked on infrastructure sites many times in this country.
“We’ve already heard in these few short days since the announcement, some voices raised saying this is going to be a hill for them to die on,” he later said to reporters.
“We think that this is a real thing. We’ve seen some of these types of actions taking place in other jurisdictions internationally and across the border. We do have some genuine concerns that this type of thing may happen in places like the lower mainland.”
Carr said peaceful protesters are a valid part of the debate process. “What makes Canada, as great a nation as it is, is that we have the freedom to express a different view from government. That’s part of the core of who we are as Canadians and that’s honored and treasured by Canadians. That’s my message. So if someone says ‘what happens if they break the law?’ Well the answer is, if anybody breaks the law they will be dealt with the same as any person by law enforcement officials.”
Carr also said in his remarks about the link between our natural resources, and how revenue from developing them will help pay for the transition to a lower carbon economy, as well as how it pays for the social programs we’ve come to enjoy.