The Liberal government is going out of its way to play down the prospect of violent confrontations at oil pipeline protests.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr made an unprompted point today of once again saying that the Liberals “embrace” dissent while linking civil disobedience with peaceful protest.
At the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting, national Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed concern about the potential for a pipeline-inspired confrontation with the military along the lines of the 1990 crisis in Oka, Que.
Some First Nations and environmental groups have promised massive protests over the Liberal government’s controversial decision to approve the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta into suburban Vancouver.
Carr told an Edmonton business audience last week that if protests aren’t peaceful, police and “defence forces” would ensure that people are kept safe and the rule of law prevails.
Carr has been dialling back that reference to the military ever since, while opposition MPs accuse the Liberals of inflaming an already tense situation and undermining civil liberties.