It was a week that felt like a month in provincial politics. And it is all on this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast.
The Legislative Assembly voted to make Kate Ryan-Lloyd the clerk. Craig James’s former deputy filled the role since James was suspended in November 2018. James retired in disgrace last May, rather than face firing for misconduct, and is under RCMP investigation for corruption. A committee struck to replace James said it received only eight applications after widely advertising one of the highest-paid jobs of its type.
Coronavirus became a bigger concern for the NDP government, after Washington State’s governor declared a state of emergency. Premier John Horgan struck a cabinet subcommittee and deputy ministers’ committee.
Finance minister Carole James (no relation to Craig James) revealed she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and would not run in the next election; teary-eyed political friends and foes united to offer the longtime James Bay MLA support.
And Victoria Police officers were called to remove five protesters who refused to leave the Parliament Buildings after meeting with NDP indigenous relations minister Scott Fraser.
With one day left before the Legislative Assembly’s two-week March break, Fraser agreed to meet protesters who had been occupying the front steps, driveway and lawn of the Parliament Buildings. He was joined by interim Green Party leader Adam Olsen. The protesters pledged to leave the building, whatever the outcome.
They had been continuing their occupation in support of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, even after the federal and B.C. governments agreed to fast-track a rights and title deal. The Coastal GasLink pipeline at the centre of the Wet’suwet’en dispute was not resolved in the Smithers talks, so that inspired the group Fraser and Olsen met to stage a sit-in.
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“My hope was to convince them to give space to the Wet’suwet’en people as they consider the agreement and to end the protest,” Fraser told Question Period on March 5. “I’m deeply disappointed, obviously, that they broke their word.”
Alan Mullen, chief of staff to Speaker Darryl Plecas, told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin that it was a bold move by Fraser, “to have that meeting in good faith is such an olive branch.”
Said Olsen in an interview with Mackin: “What they were demanding was something that government was definitely not, and has been very consistent on, not willing to do. Which is have CGL leave the territory.”
Sergeant-at-Arms Greg Nelson failed to negotiate the protesters’ exit. Finally, more than five hours after the meeting ended, Victoria Police officers arrested the five for mischief and carried them out of the building. But not without protesters surrounding police vehicles.
The protesters eventually extinguished their fires and took down their tents the next morning and left. The Legislature reopened to public tours. A temporary fence was erected on the steps to the ceremonial entry, to discourage another protest.
Mullen said the Legislative Assembly welcomes peaceful protest on the grounds, but campfires and tents will no longer be tolerated.
“We’ve shown a great deal of restraint and leniency,” Mullen told Mackin. “But time and time again, when those olive branches are extended, whether it be by the Legislature, the Speaker’s office, or a minister of the Crown, and those olive branches are essentially put in the wood splitter, I think it’s time to dial it back.”
On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, hear from Fraser, Olsen, Mullen and some of the protesters in a special feature about how the Shut Down Canada-affiliated protest climaxed and dissipated.
Also, clips of Horgan and James. Plus commentaries and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.
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