01/18/2013 05:52 EST | Updated 03/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Idle No More: Jonathan Denis Says QEII Highway Roadblock Not Safe


EDMONTON - Alberta's solicitor general wants people to stop blockading roads as a political tactic.

Jonathan Denis said Friday that some of the roadblocks that were set up this week by aboriginal groups involved in the Idle No More movement were not safe.

Denis said a blockade on Highway 2 Wednesday near Edmonton put motorists, police and the demonstrators themselves at risk.

"It gets to the point where you are affecting the rights of others and the safety of others — the safety of the officers, the safety of the individuals who are part of the protest and the safety of the public at large — when you start blockading a major roadway," he said.

Denis said the provincial government has been deluged with phone calls from people who are worried about the safety of the blockades as well as traffic delays.

Alberta police leaders are to meet with Denis some time next week to discuss such blockades.

Idle No More protests across Canada have focused on recent changes the Harper government has made to environmental oversight.

The changes include redefining protections for fish and giving the federal cabinet new decision-making powers on resource development.

First Nations say the changes allow energy and mining companies to ignore their concerns and rush into resource extraction without properly accounting for harm to animal habitats.

Other aboriginal groups have held peaceful protests on Highway 63 near oilsands projects north of Fort McMurray and on remote roads in territory claimed by the Lubicon band in northwestern Alberta.

Denis said people in the province are free to hold peaceful political protests, but busy roads and highways are not the place to do it.

"I take no issue with the protesters themselves. I take no issue with their message or what they are trying to say. Where I think it crosses the line is the blockades," he said.

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