B.C. Premier John Horgan says pipeline protesters crossed a line by appearing at his home in Langford on Tuesday, frightening his wife.
“It was certainly well and truly beyond the line,” Horgan told reporters. “And if people think that it helps their cause to terrorize my spouse, then they’re dead wrong.”
West Shore RCMP said they responded to a “mischief in progress” at Horgan’s residence in Langford just before 8 a.m.
Police said they were told some people had gone onto Horgan’s private property and were banging on the door, saying they were going to make a citizen’s arrest of the premier. The premier was not home at the time but arrived shortly afterward with his security team and verbally engaged with the activists.
Three people were arrested after refusing to leave an “exclusion zone” set up by police. They have been released and are scheduled to appear in court.
Extinction Rebellion confirmed that it was behind the protest.
Member Don Goodeve said the group remained on public property the entire time with the exception of a one person “tapping” on the door to confirm it was the correct residence. A woman came to the door but did not open it, he said.
Goodeve said the group’s philosophy is “peaceful, non-violent direct action.” The inspiration for the protest — to make a citizen’s arrest and prevent the premier from getting to Tuesday’s provincial budget announcement — ultimately didn’t pan out.
The group said it was acting in support of the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
Goodeve said he didn’t think the protest crossed a line but it was edgy and “certainly uncomfortable.” He said the point is that whatever we call our territory or home or family is “sacred and that being under threat is very uncomfortable.”
“And there was a point in this — to bring that home to the Right Hon. John Horgan that the effect of the policies of his government has been to bring that to the Wet’suwet’en,” he said. “The First Nations across Canada, the Indigenous across Canada, have experienced this throughout the time of colonization within Canada.”
Unlike the Wet’suwet’en, however, Horgan had a security detail on his side.
“He was kept safe. He was kept secure,” Goodeve said.
“That has not been the case for the people on the other side of this dispute who have been discriminated against and forced from their lands, again and again.”
The proposed $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline — a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada project — would span 670 kilometres in northern B.C., starting near Dawson Creek and extending to Kitimat, where an $18-billion liquefied natural gas export plant is being built.
Hereditary chiefs representing five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation near Smithers say the project, which cross their territory, does not have their consent.
Five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils, as well as 15 other elected Indigenous band councils, support it.
Supporters of the hereditary chiefs have launched several demonstrations in the past week, including blockades of rail lines across Canada. On Tuesday last week, hundreds of people blocked entrances to the B.C. legislature, forcing the cancellation of outdoor ceremonies and temporarily delaying events related to the throne speech. On Friday, supporters spent several hours picketing B.C. government ministry buildings.
The premier, who is NDP MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, said he imagines the vast majority of British Columbians will agree with him that Tuesday’s protest at his home went too far.
He said didn’t want to give the protesters who showed up at his home any “credence or credibility.”
“I’m going to continue to try and find a peaceful resolution to the challenges that we face every day,” Horgan said.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson also condemned the stunt, denouncing it in a post on his Twitter account.
“No one in B.C. should ever feel unsafe in their homes or at their workplace,” he wrote.
“This is not how democracy works and this is not how we treat each other here.”