Add another worry to grain transportation. As if labour disputes, bad weather and system bottlenecks weren’t enough, we can now add civil disobedience.
The blockade of rail lines by protestors has rapidly become a serious concern with grain being one of the numerous commodities affected. Unlike a strike or lockout and unlike a winter cold snap, the protests might not be short-lived.
This is another manifestation of misguided climate change activism. Fossil fuels are bad and therefore pipelines are bad. Add in some disgruntled hereditary chiefs (non-elected) and you also have an indigenous element to fuel the movement.
It doesn’t matter that the contentious pipeline would carry liquefied natural gas, a much cleaner alternative than coal. It doesn’t matter that restricting Canadian production and exports won’t reduce the worldwide consumption of fossil fuels. Rational arguments have limited impact against the religious fervor of a dedicated activist caught up in the manufactured climate change hysteria.
Every farm group with the exception of the left wing fringe represented by the National Farmers Union is calling for the rule of law to be maintained.
Sure, people should have the right to protest and voice their opinion, but blockades can’t be allowed to continue. The vast majority of Canadians agree, but it isn’t going to be simple.
First of all, police forces in recent times have been reluctant to wade into public protests even when the law is clear. Patience is a virtue and no one wants bloodshed, but at some point, police forces will need to show more backbone than they have to date.
Unfortunately, the use of force could backfire. Close down a blockade in one part of the country and one or two more materialize somewhere else. It could be like a giant game of whack-a-mole. As well, police action might embolden the protesters. Perceived persecution can be a unifying force.
Unless this is handled with kid gloves you could end up with some public sympathy swinging over to the protesters. Some elements of the media are more than happy to portray protesting scoundrels as martyrs.
But what other choice is there? You can’t just try to wait them out and hope they relent. The country’s economy would be devastated. And you can’t give in and stop the construction of a pipeline that has been properly approved and is supported by indigenous leaders in the affected region of northern British Columbia. If you do that, you might as well give up on the entire energy sector.
Strong leadership is needed, but where has our prime minister been during all of this? In Africa, schmoozing with the leadership of every country that will meet with him as he tries to gain a seat for Canada on the United Nations Security Council.
It doesn’t seem to matter to Justin Trudeau that many of those African nations have an abysmal human rights record. Trudeau supporters will argue that he’s been in constant contact with his ministers and officials back in Canada, but the optics are certainly bad.
However, it should also be noted that a different prime minister leading a different party would face the same national issues with the activists. Getting tough seems like the only path forward, but it could get messy.
No one should give up on dialogue and an appeal to common sense, but that hasn’t had much impact to date. Without the eventual enforcement of the law, a country becomes dysfunctional.