Jim Carr's comments senseless, clumsy, B.C. leader says

Laura Payton,

OTTAWA - Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr's assertion the police and military will deal with civil disobedience over pipeline projects was "stupid and clumsy," a British Columbia grand chief says.

Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, says Carr's remarks Wednesday to an audience in Calgary were "stupid, stupid, stupid."

"I think it was an incredibly stupid and clumsy statement to make in an already volatile situation, [on] a deeply emotional issue here in British Columbia. And it's just absolutely senseless, counter-productive and unhelpful," Phillip said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.


Stewart Phillip

Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, speaks to CTV's Question Period from Vancouver.

Asked what would happen if pipeline protesters used civil disobedience and unrest to make their case, Carr told a Calgary Chamber of Commerce audience that the military or police would ensure people's safety.

"If people chose for their own reasons not to be peaceful then the government of Canada, through its defence forces, through its police forces will ensure that people are kept safe," Carr said.

"We have a history of peaceful dialogue and dissent in Canada. I certainly hope that tradition will continue. If people for their own reasons determine that’s not the path they want to follow then we live under the rule of law."

Speaking to reporters, Carr later said "law enforcement officials do what they're paid to do. It's as simple as that."

On Friday, Carr's spokeswoman said he "did not mean to suggest action would be taken against protesters."

British Columbia has seen a number of protests since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, which will run through Vancouver.

Phillip said the statement has an immense political cost for the Liberals, noting thousands of Indigenous Canadians supported Trudeau "with respect to his commitments to the environment, to completely redoing the Canadian Environmental Assessment processes and the National Energy Board oversight legislation and policies. He's done neither."

"He's broken all of his promises and commitments, and we're certainly not about to continue supporting his government given this betrayal."

In a separate interview on CTV's Question Period, Transport Minister Marc Garneau touted the conditions imposed on Kinder Morgan by the National Energy Board, as well as the federal government's new oceans protection plan.

"We recognize that people can express themselves on [the pipeline], and I'm sure that they will. And ... it's very clear that we need to explain it, because once people understand what the measures are, they're reassured," he said.

"This is very muscular. It's very robust. It addresses the concerns with respect to marine safety."

Garneau says the Liberals are behind the Charter and fully recognize the right for Canadians to express themselves.

"Some Canadians have strong emotions about some of the things that are decided by the government, and they have the right to express it. We fully recognize that and we are confident that they're going to do it peacefully," he said.

Phillip says British Columbians are organizing against the Trans Mountain pipeline.

"The battle is just beginning here on the West Coast," he said.