BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson says that if elected, his party would support court rulings as the final arbiter in disputes with protesters.
During a campaign press conference on Friday in Merritt, Wilkinson said his party believes that permanent projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline should not be blocked by protesters.
When asked if he would pursue legislation to block protests, Wilkinson said that he believes protesters should pursue their activism through the court system.
“It’s really not acceptable to have permanent projects that then go on hold indefinitely because of a few protesters. If people don’t like the project then they can use the courts to try and get a judicial review of the project.”
The Liberal leader cited the example of a ruling on the Coastal Gaslink pipeline where an injunction was sought to block protesters from accessing the site.
“That’s the right way to do things,” Wilkinson said. “Having the courts ignored and having chaos in British Columbia is simply not acceptable.”
Following the press conference Wilkinson led a campaign rally with supporters in trucks and other vehicles honking their horns in approval.
At the rally he accused the BC NDP of helping to “organize protests” against the Trans Mountain pipeline as part of a variety of tactics aimed at blocking the project.
“They spend millions of your dollars on lawyers, they organize these bogus protests, they’ve blocked the roads, they’ve blocked the rail tracks. And they say we’re gonna use [our] tool box to go to Ottawa, the Supreme Court of Canada.”
A BC NDP spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Victoria Buzz that the comments were “baseless.”
“This is another baseless allegation from Mr. Wilkinson to try to distract from the fact that he has no plan to deal with the issues important to British Columbians,” the NDP stated.
During a media availability, Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau responded to a question about Wilkinson’s comments by saying that her party supports the role of protesters in giving a voice to communities.
“Sometimes we have to recognize that decisions are being made that communities are unhappy with,” Furstenau said.
“When we see protests happening as governments, we have to ask ourselves, what is it the community feels is wrong here.”