In dealing with protests, Justin Trudeau must be clear about what’s negotiable, and what isn’t – Editorial (Globe and Mail – February 19, 2020)

The Prime Minister is in his comfort zone when he’s delivering the kind of speech that’s become his hallmark: light on substance, heavy on platitudes, and with more than a hint of lecturing folks from the other side of the political spectrum on their failings.

Unfortunately, the issue Justin Trudeau rose to address on Tuesday in the House of Commons does not lend itself to any of that. The government is instead faced with practical questions about the legalities of a gas pipeline in British Columbia, and the pressing fact of a blockaded arterial rail line in Eastern Ontario.

This is nuts-and-bolts stuff about the country’s economic and legal plumbing. It’s going to take more than political clichés to unblock the national pipes.

The PM is also most at ease when he’s invoking one of his favourite phrases, about how the relationship with Indigenous Canadians is his government’s “most important relationship.” The implied narrative is that Mr. Trudeau is on the side of Indigenous people and his opponents are on the other side.

But the challenge Mr. Trudeau returned from overseas to tackle, or be seen to be tackling, doesn’t look like that. Along the proposed route of B.C.’s Coastal GasLink natural-gas pipeline, as on the normally busy train tracks of the Toronto-Montreal corridor, this isn’t a story of Indigenous Canadians versus non-Indigenous Canadians.

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