‘This has gone way too far’: Investigators begin probing violent attack on Coastal GasLink site

‘The violence, the rhetoric, the threats — their purpose seemed to be very coordinated’ Publishing date: Feb 18, 2022  •  10 hours ago  •  5 minute read  •  16 Comments Damage to a Coastal GasLink work site near Houston, B.C. Photo by RCMP Damaged industrial equipment, booby traps, incendiary devices and blockaded roadways — RCMP Chief…
‘This has gone way too far’: Investigators begin probing violent attack on Coastal GasLink site

‘The violence, the rhetoric, the threats — their purpose seemed to be very coordinated’

Publishing date:

Feb 18, 2022  •  10 hours ago  •  5 minute read  •  16 Comments

Damage to a Coastal GasLink work site near Houston, B.C. Photo by RCMP

Damaged industrial equipment, booby traps, incendiary devices and blockaded roadways — RCMP Chief Superintendent Warren Brown thought he had seen it all from protestors and activists during his time overseeing the north district of the province of British Columbia, but Thursday’s attack on a Coastal GasLink pipeline site was something different.

“I would say this is probably so far the most direct and most immediate-type threat to people’s safety,” Brown said in an interview.

“When workers are sitting in vehicles and they are being attacked by these assailants swinging large axes, smashing the windows, hitting the vehicle when (workers’) bodies and heads are just feet away, having torches thrown at their vehicles and (in) the boxes of their vehicles that could compromise their lives — this has gone way too far.”

One day after the attack at a remote drilling site near the Morice River and investigators are reviewing security footage and interviewing about nine Coastal GasLink employees who were present at the site shortly after midnight when 20 or so masked people, some of them brandishing axes, allegedly attacked security guards and threatened workers with flare guns in what police described as a “coordinated attack”.

Millions of dollars of damage was also done to heavy equipment and trailers. Police believe the attackers commandeered equipment at the site to damage other machinery and demolish buildings. The attackers also cut equipment hydraulic and fuel lines, causing significant leaks.

The $6.7-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, owned by Calgary-based TC Energy Corp., will connect B.C.’s shale gas resources to LNG Canada’s export project in Kitimat. While the 670-kilometre pipeline is nearly 60 per cent complete, the project has endured demonstrations and blockades from environmentalists and some First Nations groups since construction began in 2019.

The pipeline has government approval for construction, as well as the support of all 20 elected First Nation councils that span the pipeline’s route through northern B.C — though some members and supporters of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people are opposed to the project.

Police had not yet made any arrests in connection with Thursday’s attack. Brown acknowledged it will be a challenge to identify the assailants who were disguised and masked when they arrived at the site on foot.

“Their arrival seemed to be very well coordinated,” Brown said. “The violence, the rhetoric, the threats — their purpose seemed to be very coordinated. This was definitely co-ordinated and it was targeted and it was done at that time for a specific reason.”

In a statement late Thursday, LNG Canada, a joint venture between five international gas companies, including Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and Shell PLC, said it respects people’s right to conduct peaceful protest, “but intimidation of workers, impacts to the environment, and destruction of property and equipment goest far beyond protest and disagreement and is something we as British Columbians and Canadian can never condone.”

Brown said he wants the public and community to understand that the police response to Thursday’s incident won’t be akin to a crackdown of law enforcement on lawful protest.

“This is not about enforcing a court injunction. This is not about measuring the volatility of protestors. This is about a specific criminal act that happened on Feb. 17,” he said.

“This is about 20 or so people who have taken it far too far and we’re going to find out who they are.”

The damage was allegedly caused by 20 masked and camouflaged attackers. Photo by RCMP

Western provincial premiers called on the federal government to take a more aggressive stance in response to the attack in northern British Columbia. The calls came amid heightened tensions across Canada, as police in Ottawa began arresting protesters involved in the three-week blockade of the streets around Parliament Hill, which prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to assume emergency powers this week.

The move to quell ongoing protests and blockades against pandemic restrictions has been unpopular with the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Friday, premiers Jason Kenney and Scott Moe bluntly challenged the prime minister on social media to respond to the incident at the Coastal GasLink site.

“Will the Trudeau government now seize the bank accounts of the foreign funded eco-terrorists responsible for this violence?” tweeted Kenney, Alberta’s premier, referring to the financial provisions of the Emergencies Act that permit authorities to target donations made to illegal convoy activities.

“If the Trudeau government is set on using the Emergencies Act to end blockades, then they should also use it to follow the money, seize the associated vehicles and provide all the resources necessary to ensure those illegally acting here are arrested for damaging and blocking this critical export infrastructure,” the premier of Saskatchewan tweeted.

The Canadian government condemned the attack.

“This is truly disturbing,” federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter, referring to the Coastal GasLink attack. “Violence and illegal acts are not the way forward on any matter.”

More On This Topic

  1. ‘Rescue mission’ breaches blockade to arrest protesters and free workers at northern B.C. gas pipeline

TC Energy said Friday that they are providing support to workers who were at the site at the time of the attack.

“Our people were terrorized during this violent incident,” Kent Wilfur, vice-president project delivery for Coastal GasLink, said in a statement. “In the last 24 hours, I have had the opportunity to hear from our workforce, Indigenous and community leaders, governments, and our partners, and all have expressed their outrage about this attack.”

Article content

Wilfur also addressed comments that circulated widely on social media Friday that the attack couldn’t have happened the way police described.

“We are aware of reports that wrongly suggest that this attack was staged. We find these suggestions offensive and irresponsible as they only serve to retraumatize the workers who experienced the violent attack,” Wilfur said.

The company also said that for the past several weeks there had been instances of people using forest trails to access the site near the drilling pad to confront and intimidate workers and that these incidents were reported to police. It’s not known whether these events are related to the attack on Feb. 17, they said.

TC Energy said construction at the site will resume once the police are finished with the site and a damage assessment has been completed.

— With files from the Canadian Press

Email: [email protected] / Twitter: @mpotkins

Financial Post Top Stories

Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Read More

Total
0
Shares
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts
Germany May Resort to Nuclear Plants to Plug Russian Gas Gap
Read More

Germany May Resort to Nuclear Plants to Plug Russian Gas Gap

(Bloomberg) -- Author of the article: Bloomberg News Vanessa Dezem and Birgit Jennen h[[99wrzieuedzmg14lvc2xh_media_dl_1.png Bloomberg RSS (Bloomberg) — Advertisement 2 This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Germany may not be able to replace all its imports of Russian natural gas this winter and might have to resort to nuclear power…
Samsara Recognized as one of North America’s Fastest-Growing Companies on the 2022 Deloitte Technology Fast 500™
Read More

Samsara Recognized as one of North America’s Fastest-Growing Companies on the 2022 Deloitte Technology Fast 500™

Author of the article: Publishing date: Nov 16, 2022  •  11 hours ago  •  4 minute read Join the conversation SAN FRANCISCO — Samsara Inc. (“Samsara”) (NYSE: IOT), the pioneer of the Connected Operations Cloud, today announced it has ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ for the third consecutive year. This respected list ranks the…
Wheat, corn futures fall ahead of Ukraine peace talks
Read More

Wheat, corn futures fall ahead of Ukraine peace talks

Author of the article: BEIJING — Chicago wheat and corn futures fell on Tuesday, ahead of Ukraine and Russia heading for peace talks, with worries over surging COVID-19 cases in China weighing on commodities markets further. Soybean edged up after falling in the previous session ahead of a widely watched U.S. planting intentions report later…