Hoback blasts Liberals for handling of railway blockades

Prince Albert Conservative MP Randy Hoback says farmers in the Prince Albert area are hurting due to the federal government’s inability to reopen railway lines blocked by First Nations protestors in Ontario.

Hoback said during question period that he’s worried the farmers won’t be able to get their grain to market, especially with seasonal road bans set to return in March. He said producers are struggling to pay their bills, and accused the federal government of mishandling the situation.

“The inaction of this government and the inability of this government to understand how serious things are is pretty disappointing,” Hoback said in parliament. “It just shows how out of touch they are. Their inability to react … just shows you how weak the leadership is with this Liberal government.”

Hoback said farmers are already under pressure due to a difficult harvest last fall and the federal government’s new carbon tax. He also argued that Indigenous communities from the Wet’suwet’en living along the proposed Coastal GasLink project route were supportive of the project, and blamed activists “with no skin in the game” of delaying the project.

Hoback also said the treatment of protesters blocking rail lines running through Ontario is much better than what farmers received with they crossed the border to sell grain to protest the Canadian Wheat Board.

“They were never going to put an RCMP officer’s life at risk. They were never going to disrupt the country,” Hoback said shortly before accusing protestors of being anarchists.

The Prince Albert MP added that he hoped the situation could be solved peacefully but worried the government’s response would embolden protestors rather than deter them.

When Hoback raised the issue in question period on Friday, representatives from the Ministry of Transpiration said they sympathized with farmers, but were committed to their current approach.

“We understand the pain that this blockade is causing farmers and businesses across the country, but the pathway to a lasting resolution is through open and respectful dialogue,” said Christ Bittle, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transportation. “That is the path we are taking. That is the path that will resolve this situation peacefully.”

On Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that 10 members of the Yendinaga Mohawk Nation were arrested as Ontario Provincial Police moved to life the blockade erected in Ontario in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia.

Wet’suwet’en activists oppose the construction of a $6.6 billion coastal pipeline project, and were forced to leave a protest camp on Feb. 10 by RCMP. Five of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s six elected band councils support the project. However, activists argue that the pipeline runs along unceded territory. They also argue the band council only has authority over reserves and not traditional lands.