Three members of the Labrador Land Protectors who were jailed last summer have been barred from the House of Commons for 90 days. Jim Learning, Eldred Davis and Marjorie Flowers drove to Ottawa from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to take part in a rally that was being held May 7 by opponents of the Muskrat Falls project. The trio, along with a group of about 12 others, attempted to enter the House to place photos on desks of the Members of Parliament featuring “the pictures and words of those most at risk from the lethal effects of the Muskrat Falls megadam.”
Early reports suggested the group had been arrested but, in fact, they were banned from entering the House and would face charges if they attempted to re-enter within the 90 days.
“In principle that sucks,” Learning said to a crowd assembled on the Hill. “We’re a free society. But I guess they have a job to do and if I was a criminal I would expect something like that but as a law-abiding citizen I expect nothing like that. It’s lip service to what these bureaucrats want. It’s not standing on the principle of democracy, which we do.”
Rallies against the controversial project were held in Ottawa, St. John’s, Halifax, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Winnipeg. Approximately 10 people showed up at the rally in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, only a short drive from the project.
Each of the 15 who attempted to enter the House carried a photo of a person from Labrador who would be affected by the project. Supporters in Happy Valley-Goose Bay had photos of those in Ottawa who were attempting the act of civil disobedience to show solidarity.
“It’s really about adding our support and solidarity to the actions happening in Ottawa and other parts of Canada as part of the national day of action today (May 7) around asking the federal government to stop investing in cultural genocide here in Labrador by way of the Lower Churchill project,” said Denise Cole, a member of the Labrador Land Protectors in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
She said they hoped to lend their support to those in Ottawa who were facing arrest to bring their message to Parliament. She said they wanted to let those in Ottawa know their voices are heard.
Part of the focus of the actions were to ask the federal government to stop investing in the project. So far, the feds have given over $9 billion in loan guarantees to the Muskrat Falls project.
“They’re the single biggest investor in the project,” she said. “The damage that Muskrat Falls is already doing and to think they would even look at Gull Island, which we know is on their radar. The federal and provincial governments need to pay attention that you can’t continue to do things to people downstream, whether indigenous or not indigenous, to impact our way of life, threaten our food sources and threaten our safety.”