Premiers tell Trudeau 'patience is wearing thin' with Indigenous-led blockades

Posted In: News Date:Feb 21st, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with provincial premiers late Thursday and they expressed frustration with Ottawa's response to the ongoing Indigenous-led rail blockades.

Provincial sources, speaking to CBC News on background, said some premiers told Trudeau that "patience is wearing thin" in their communities. The protests have lasted more than two weeks and forced 1,500 railway workers temporarily out of a job.

Some premiers also expressed concern about the advent of counter-protests, which have popped up at the sites of some Indigenous blockades, notably in Edmonton on Wednesday.

While frustrated, there was no consensus among the provincial leaders as to what Ottawa should do.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Quebec Premier François Legault have accused Ottawa of being too slow to act on the illegal blockades. Legault, who has taken the toughest stance on the blockades publicly, suggested Ottawa should rely on the police to enforce the rule of law to prevent further economic damage.

Trudeau maintained that the best way to resolve the impasse is through further dialogue, not the use of force.

Trudeau told premiers he's ready to dispatch senior cabinet ministers to meet with Indigenous protesters to negotiate an end to the blockades — a plan Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said amounts to appeasement of "radical activists."

Trudeau and his cabinet huddled in Ottawa this morning to chart a path forward as the blockades hit their two-week mark.

"We're working very hard to end the blockades. It's an unacceptable situation," said the prime minister ahead of a meeting with his cabinet.