Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch is pledging to “lock up” and monitor Canadians who unlawfully protest pipeline projects if she becomes prime minister.
Leitch made the promise in her latest incendiary press release, sent hours before a bilingual debate in Moncton, N.B., in which she affirmed support for the Energy East pipeline project.
Kellie Leitch arrives at the Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
“We will not tolerate acts of vandalism or violence from those who would illegally stand in the way of the economic prosperity of our people,” the Tory MP said in the release. “There is a place for legitimate protest, but we will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way.”
Leitch took to Facebook to unveil a so-called “five-point plan” to promote natural resource projects, including unspecified stiffer penalties for unlawful protesters.
She promised to create a “new force” comprised of “specialized components” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada Revenue Agency and Global Affairs Canada. Such a group would “coordinate investigations, freeze bank accounts, and lay charges” against illegal protesters.
And she also pledged to “classify environmental lobbying as a political activity to ensure transparency in funding and get international money out of the process.” Canadian charitable foundations can currently maintain their tax exempt status as long as no more than 10 per cent of their resources are dedicated to political activities.
"We will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way."
The release comes as Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr continues to face questions over his suggestion the Canadian military could be used to quash illegal protests over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He made his comments to Alberta business leaders last week.
“If people choose for their own reasons not to be peaceful, then the government of Canada, through its defence forces, through its police forces, will ensure that people will be kept safe,” Carr said.
Jim Carr, right, Minister of Natural Resources, speaks as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, appear at a press conference in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 27. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
The minister later told CBC News those remarks weren’t meant to be a “warning” to protesters.
In question period Friday, B.C. NDP MP Randall Garrison urged the defence minister to remind his colleague the “federal government has no such authority to use our military against pipeline protests.” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Liberals see peaceful protest as a “cornerstone” of Canadian democracy.
Elizabeth May ready to go to jail fighting pipeline
The $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan project is expected to yield more protests from indigenous groups and climate change activists who argue the federal government lacks the “social license” to greenlight the project.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told the Huffington Post Canada she’s willing to be arrested fighting the project.
“If there are blockades as construction begins, I’m more than prepared to be there to block construction and be arrested and go to jail,” May said in an interview last week. “This is not an issue where you compromise.”