Interview 104.7 Heart FM
OXFORD COUNTY – Protests and disruptions continue across the Country today as demonstrators continue to show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs.
Yesterday the OPP charged 10 protestors at a rail blockade set up by the Tyendinaga Mohawk near Belleville. The tracks were cleared, however protesters tossed a tire on the tracks and set it on fire. Today solidarity protests have shut down the Hamilton and Niagara Go trains and they still have a blockade set up at Highway 6 in Caledonia.
MP for Oxford County Dave MacKenzie says the blockades have gone on for way too long. He says the Government has failed Canadians with their response.
“The Hereditary Chiefs ignored the fact that the elected band council all approved the pipeline, they have over 400 people from that reserve working on the pipeline and what has happened is, obviously people who have no connection to that band have taken up the cause but they don’t know what they are taking up the cause for. It’s just like the Teck Mine, Teck Mine finally decided to walk away because the Government is not strong enough to deal with, well some people are calling them eco terrorists, but I think it is people with good intentions but don’t understand the situation. These people want an opportunity to work, we keep indigenous people poor and impoverished but when they have an opportunity to work and make money, we put up road blocks for them.”
MacKenzie says we are starting to feel the pinch in Oxford County.
“I just talked to a lady today, a small business owner in Oxford, they supply the dairy industry with robotic milking equipment, they got containers stuck in Montreal. It will essentially put them out of business if this continues on, because they still have bills to pay. The lady when I talked to her today she said, you know I have some debts and the bank wants their money but I’ve got these containers stuck in Montreal and they can’t move. That is just one small business and we are hearing from others. Yesterday we met with the Japanese auto manufacturers, now Toyota are primarily CP customers, but some of the others aren’t and they are starting to feel the crunch now, because they can’t get parts moved.”
Over a week ago Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called for an end to the blockades and suggested a deadline. Mackenzie says he was watching what unfolded yesterday very closely.
“I think the OPP did a terrific job, couldn’t have done better, they gave them time, there was a court order that it was to be moved and I watched it, they handled it very gently, some of the protestors were swinging and yelling and shouting but the OPP officers remained calm and handled the situation.”
Mackenzie says if we did the same thing across the Country the situation would be over and if they would have started it last week, it might be over now.
Mackenzie says we may never know the full economic impact of these blockades.
“When these people realize who is being hurt, when we start to run out of propane, in some of the northern indigenous communities where they heat with propane it’s not going to be a pretty sight. It’s not just the propane either, the food in the stores, many of these communities, the only way they get food is with rail, if these keeps going on, it’s not going to be good.”
Mackenzie says people have lost their jobs or have had temporary lay offs because of the protests and the full economic impact doesn’t even factor in the overtime costs to OPP officers and RCMP officers on the front lines, which could be in the millions if the blockades continue on for much longer. Mackenzie says he hopes it ends soon and cooler heads prevail.