Kellie Leitch Pledges To ‘Lock Up’ Unlawful Pipeline Protesters

Kellie Leitch arrives at the Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Kellie Leitch arrives at the Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch is pledging to “lock up” and monitor Canadians who unlawfully protest pipeline projects if she becomes prime minister.

Leitch made the promise in her latest incendiary press release, sent hours before a bilingual debate in Moncton, N.B., in which she affirmed support for the Energy East pipeline project.

“We will not tolerate acts of vandalism or violence from those who would illegally stand in the way of the economic prosperity of our people,” the Tory MP said in the release. “There is a place for legitimate protest, but we will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way.”

Leitch took to Facebook to unveil a so-called “five-point plan” to promote natural resource projects, including unspecified stiffer penalties for unlawful protesters.

She promised to create a “new force” comprised of “specialized components” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada Revenue Agency and Global Affairs Canada. Such a group would “coordinate investigations, freeze bank accounts, and lay charges” against illegal protesters.

And she also pledged to “classify environmental lobbying as a political activity to ensure transparency in funding and get international money out of the process.” Canadian charitable foundations can currently maintain their tax exempt status as long as no more than 10 per cent of their resources are dedicated to political activities.

“We will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way.”

The release comes as Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr continues to face questions over his suggestion the Canadian military could be used to quash illegal protests over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He made his comments to Alberta business leaders last week.

“If people choose 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 will be kept safe,” Carr said.

Jim Carr, right, Minister of Natural Resources, speaks as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, appear at a press conference in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 27. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Jim Carr, right, Minister of Natural Resources, speaks as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, appear at a press conference in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 27. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The minister later told CBC News those remarks weren’t meant to be a “warning” to protesters.

In question period Friday, B.C. NDP MP Randall Garrison urged the defence minister to remind his colleague the “federal government has no such authority to use our military against pipeline protests.” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Liberals see peaceful protest as a “cornerstone” of Canadian democracy.

Elizabeth May ready to go to jail fighting pipeline

The $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan project is expected to yield more protests from indigenous groups and climate change activists who argue the federal government lacks the “social license” to greenlight the project.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told the Huffington Post Canada she’s willing to be arrested fighting the project.

“If there are blockades as construction begins, I’m more than prepared to be there to block construction and be arrested and go to jail,” May said in an interview last week. “This is not an issue where you compromise.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/12/06/kellie-leitch-pipeline-protesters-lock-up_n_13462212.html?ncid=fcbklnkcahpmg00000001

Missing-Women Roundtable To Keep Talking

A group of aboriginal protesters hold hands during a prayer outside the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Friday, February 27, 2015 in Ottawa. The Canadian Press

A group of aboriginal protesters hold hands during a prayer outside the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Friday, February 27, 2015 in Ottawa. The Canadian Press

By Bruce Cheadle | The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – It was a day of talks punctuated by powerful symbols.

Beating drums. Tearful family testimonials. Protesters raging against their exclusion from the table. A police officer hugging a protesting victim of violence, who burst into tears.

Leaders of national First Nations, Inuit and Metis organizations, representatives of families wracked by violence, and officials from provincial, territorial and federal governments gathered Friday for a roundtable on the terrible, ongoing legacy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

It appeared the biggest breakthrough was an agreement to meet again before the end of 2016, when they will assess the success of a multi-fronted public awareness campaign and an effort to find better community policing models.

“Today we have seen the beginning of what I hope will be a continuing national dialogue on missing and murdered indigenous women,” Bob McLeod, the premier of the Northwest Territories and the chair of the meeting, told a closing news conference attended by everyone involved except the federal government.

And that was a powerful symbol, too.

A block away in a bunker-like room under heavy security at a different hotel, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Kellie Leitch, the Conservative minister for the status of women, repeatedly called the day’s talks “historic” — while making clear that the central demand for a national inquiry on the issue of violence against indigenous women is a non-starter.

“Our position on the national inquiry is we will not be moving forward with one,” said Leitch, who nonetheless maintained the federal government “supported each of the action items that were put forward on the table.”

Perhaps that’s why they held a news conference separate from the other roundtable participants.

“There was not agreement to some action items that many of us did think would help; the federal government will have to answer that question as well,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had said just a few minutes before, flanked by the various participants of the talks.

Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, flatly asserted federal leadership is lacking.

“Of course not — simple answer,” said Bellegarde.

“Is the leadership being there? No.”

Bellegarde said a five-year, $25-million federal plan announced last September, which will fund community safety plans, “engage men and boys on and off reserve,” raise awareness of healthy relationships and other measures is a welcome first step.

But everyone at the table agreed the issues run much deeper and broader.

Valcourt, for his part, had his own take on why there wasn’t agreement on a broader agenda.

The Aboriginal Affairs minister said Ontario and New Brunswick had dropped ideas on the table “at the last minute.”

“You can’t at the last minute decide what you will do with a series of 10 (Ontario) proposals — and New Brunswick adds on another four — without ever knowing what they’re about. We are more responsible than that with taxpayers.”

All parties agreed there was no commitment of any new money Friday, although Wynne said the public awareness campaign will presumably cost provinces, territories and the federal treasury something.

There was also common talk of an “action plan” and benchmarks for success, although that too appeared to paper over a divide between Ottawa and everyone else.

Pressed on how outcomes will be measured, Leitch said the federal government has its own goals, without specifying what they are.

“We have ours,” said Leitch, adding the framework from Friday’s talks will have another set. “They will be coming forward with theirs.”

In the end, it might be as much as anyone could hope for from the exercise.

Judy Maas, one of four representatives of families who have lost sisters, daughters and mothers spoke eloquently at the group news conference, holding out hope that action will one day follow the words.

“What I can say today is we spoke loud and clear. We were very truthful in what we had to say, and everyone that was present, I believe that they heard us,” said Maas.

“Just by the fact that we are here, we still have a hand out to say ‘We still are in this relationship together and we’ll walk this journey together.’”

A Roundtable Laden With Emotion And Suspicion: Tim Harper

Dr. Dawn Harvard, right, of the Native Women's Association of Canada, with Claudette Dumont-Smith, also of the NWAC, says Friday's roundtable has to be seen as a start to a better relationship. “If not this meeting and this minister, maybe the next one." she said Thursday.

Dr. Dawn Harvard, right, of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, with Claudette Dumont-Smith, also of the NWAC, says Friday’s roundtable has to be seen as a start to a better relationship. “If not this meeting and this minister, maybe the next one.” she said Thursday.

By: Tim Harper | Toronto Star

Compromise will be tough, but Ottawa, the provinces and aboriginal leadership must bring down the temperature at Friday meeting.

OTTAWA—It’s going to be awfully crowded in a downtown hotel ballroom here Friday.

Emotion and frustration. Suspicion and ill will. All sitting cheek by jowl.

For the first time since a shocking RCMP report revealed 1,181 indigenous women and girls had been murdered or gone missing between 1980 and 2012, federal ministers will sit down with provincial premiers and ministers and aboriginal leaders to seek progress on ending violence against aboriginal women.

Room for compromise appears slim. And just in time for the meeting comes a new irritant — aboriginal belief that they will be targeted for legitimate protest under the Conservatives’ anti-terror bill.

But aboriginal leaders will go into the room knowing they have forged a consensus among provincial and territorial leaders and realizing that if they chose anything but optimism in advance of the meeting, the federal government would have already won.

You have to have hope, they say.

Yet something positive, something concrete, has to come out of seven hours of meetings — actually just about 5 1/2 hours of formal talks — and that is a tall order.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper again dismissed calls for a national inquiry Thursday, labelling it “more NDP study.’’

His two representatives inside the room, Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, will not be swayed from that line.

This government has rejected any sociological phenomenon at play here. For them it is a matter of law and order. Catch the bad guys and make them pay for their crimes.

It is spending $5 million per year over five years as part of an action plan to address violence against indigenous women.

In this case, they are right, wrong and significant dollars short.

This issue has been studied to death, as confirmed by a report released Thursday by theLegal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women, which looked at more than 700 recommendations from 58 studies over 20 years.

Forty of the studies were federal studies and have been cited by Harper ministers as evidence a national inquiry is not needed.

But the study shows only a handful of the 700 recommendations have ever been acted upon and its authors argue a national inquiry is needed to understand the barriers to implementing any of those recommendations.

There are common themes through the mountain of studies — a lack of access to education and employment opportunities resulting in high levels of poverty. Indigenous women experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity, overcrowded housing, and homelessness. High instances of family breakdown, and the intervention of the child welfare system make them more vulnerable.

The government spending on its “action plan” is pocket change compared to its self-promotion budget. Canadian Heritage alone spent more promoting Canada’s 150th birthday last year than the government spent on countering aboriginal violence.

There is a real danger the federal government could use Friday’s meeting as a stage to sell its program and walk away, saying it had engaged in the dialogue aboriginals had so eagerly sought.

But that won’t happen, says Dr. Dawn Harvard, interim president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Nobody else at the table is buying.

“There is a commitment, and that won’t change, regardless of any soap boxing from the feds,’’ she says.

“Been there, done that. Heard it before.’’

So, how to get past the impasse, the mutual suspicion that has given us Idle No More, killed a federal move on native education, cost Shawn Atleo his job as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, led to challenges of vital federal infrastructure programs and predictably fuelled the belief that Bill C-51 will target aboriginals?

There will have to be a nod from Valcourt and Leitch that they can do more. There has to be a move toward a more co-ordinated approach from Ottawa, the provinces and the aboriginal leadership and an acknowledgement from that leadership that they, too, can do more, to try to stem this at the source.

Aboriginal leaders should commit to try to increase the abysmal voting rate of indigenous Canadians. If they don’t vote, they can’t effect change.

This government will not bend on a national inquiry. It may have only months to go and there will be a more conciliatory approach from a different government.

But Friday, they are all talking. It has to be seen as a start to a better relationship. As Harvard put it: “If not this meeting and this minister, maybe the next one.’’

Tim Harper is a national affairs writer. His column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. tharper@thestar.ca Twitter:@nutgraf1

Tears flowed as families of missing, murdered forced to select roundtable delegates

MISSING-VIGIL-GFX

OTTAWA—Tears flowed and old pain surfaced Thursday as the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women were forced to select their representatives for a roundtable Friday with federal and provincial politicians.

The process left many family members shaken, said C.J Julian, sister of Norma George who was one of serial-killer Robert Pickton’s victims.

“I just think what they did was re-victimize the families by picking four ceremonial witnesses for the national roundtable. It felt like we had to go against each other… I saw a lot of people walk away with heavy hearts,” said Julian. “It was like we all went against each other. It was like lateral violence. We had to pick looking at each other.”

The families of the murdered and missing were told they could only pick four people to attend the national roundtable. The were told to pick delegates representing the four directions: North, South, East and West.

Julian was not one of the delegates selected to attend the roundtable which will be held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Ottawa. She will be part of a parallel gathering for families and the public at Carleton University.

Friday’s roundtable meeting will be chaired by Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod and attended by provincial leaders, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn.

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch are scheduled to attend Friday’s meeting.

Representatives from Indigenous organizations will also attend the roundtable, which will be closed to the public.

Families gathered Thursday at the Delta Hotel to select their delegates for Friday’s meeting.

Some of the family members wept after realizing they would not get a chance to share their voice and pain at the national roundtable.

The frustration boiled over a times.

Miriam Saunders, the Inuk mother of Loretta Saunders, 26, who was murdered in Halifax last year, was upset over the event’s organization and was seen in a heated argument with Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association.

A visibly upset Miriam Saunders, who wasn’t invited by the Nova Scotia organization, said she was frustrated and confused over which region she fit into.

Bev Jacobs, who is from Six Nations and a former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, was picked as one of the delegates.

Jacobs said each of the representatives would only be able to speak for four minutes at the roundtable. She said she would reflect the pain and tears from the family members at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’m going to share their pain. I’m going to tell them what I am seeing right now,” said Jacobs. “I’m going to share their voice.”

Jacobs said she was against the roundtable from the beginning arguing it would just hurt families again.

“I’m disappointed in the process. I don’t know who designed it, but it’s not respectful of the families,” she said.

Jacobs said she’s like to see a Royal Commission.

The other delegates selected to represent the families at the roundtable included: Judy Maas, from Blueberry River in British Columbia, whose sister Cynthia Mass was killed in 2010 in Prince George, B.C.; Darlene Osborne, from Norway House Cree Nation, Man., and the cousin of Helen Betty Osborne who was kidnapped and murdered in The Pas, Man., in 1971; Diane Lilley, whose 21-year-old sister Cindy Burk was murdered along the Highway of Tears in 1990.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is personally against a public inquiry and has told two successive Assembly of First Nations national chiefs he won’t be calling one.

@APTNNews