Under cover of COVID-19, rule of law falters | Pamela Palmater – The Lawyer’s Daily

April 23, 2020

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, Indigenous peoples and allies were engaged in nationwide solidarity actions in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, its traditional leaders and clan members. Their actions were in response to RCMP removing Wet’suwet’en peoples from their homes to allow construction of Coastal Gaslink pipeline on their territory without their consent. Solidarity actions included peaceful occupations of railways, ports, bridges, highways, legislatures and minister’s offices supporting Wet’suwet’en calls for RCMP and Coastal Gaslink off Wet’suwet’en lands.

As a result of such widespread support for the land rights of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, federal officials met with the traditional leaders to discuss their Aboriginal title rights. Then the pandemic hit and federal and provincial governments responded by issuing directives for everyone to stay at home and not gather in public places — some police were even issued fines for violators. Yet, extractive industry workers were permitted to continue travelling back and forth from their camps and gathering in large numbers to facilitate construction despite the serious health risks posed by the pandemic.

This was a sign that one of the first casualties of the pandemic would be the rule of law and with it, native rights. The so-called rule of law has always been selectively applied in Canada to suit the needs of governments and the massive corporate and business interests that support them. If Canada was truly a country that was committed to the rule of law, then at least in theory, all relevant and just laws would be applied in fair, non-discriminatory manner that balanced its application with the impacts on society. The rule of law would mean that Indigenous laws, Canadian laws and international laws to which Canada is bound, would all be harmonized and jointly enforced. Instead, when consultation doesn’t result in a “yes” from impacted First Nations, governments often resort to their police forces to enforce the “law of rulers” to push through projects on Indigenous lands.

Read More: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/18734/under-cover-of-covid-19-rule-of-law-falters-pamela-palmater

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