How Justin Trudeau’s patience with rail blockade protests came to an end

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped in front of cameras last week to declare that barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes had to come down, the move had been decided almost two days before.

He intended to send a signal to the police that attempts to negotiate an end to the national crisis were not working and the situation was now in their hands, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

Trudeau had been urging patience in the hopes of seeing the rising crisis end through negotiation, but a final 36-hour clock had run out.

The Canadian Press spoke with three government officials, including in the prime minister’s office and that of B.C. Premier John Horgan, to get a picture of what has been happening behind the scenes as the blockades rose to national attention and how the governments have seen the growing crisis.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive matters in public.

The blockades were sparked when the RCMP began enforcing a court order against Wet’suwet’en protesters and their supporters blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. Some hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation oppose the pipeline on their territorial land and have been trying to block the project for almost a decade.

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