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It is vital to the future of Canada that the Coastal GasLink pipeline project goes forward in northern British Columbia.

It is vital to the future of Canada that the Coastal GasLink pipeline project goes forward in northern British Columbia.

The $40-billion to be invested in this major initiative would act like a massive vitamin-injection into Canada’s sluggish economy, above all providing a necessary boost to struggling communities in northern B.C.

But that’s far from the only reason this pipeline should proceed and that a small number of Indigenous leaders now opposing it should be brought onside.

If this project is stopped — as so many other Canadian pipelines have been in the past — it would tell the world it is no longer possible to build a major infrastructure project in this country or, at the very least, most of the territory this country claims to be Canadian. It would also represent a huge blow to Canadian democracy and our rule of law.

The democratically-elected governments of Canada and British Columbia both approve of the pipeline that would carry natural gas to a Pacific port, where it would be processed into liquefied natural gas and shipped abroad.

The democratically-elected representatives of all of the 20 First Nations band councils living along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre route unanimously support the initiative, too.

They know it would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into an economic backwater and create well-paying jobs for First Nations workers living in a region plagued by high unemployment. Their consent is not only the most persuasive argument in favour of the pipeline, it can’t be ignored.

In addition, B.C.’s most powerful judicial arbiter — its Supreme Court — upheld the legality of the pipeline’s construction when it issued an injunction in December ordering protesters to allow workers access to a road so they could do their jobs.

Yet despite all these endorsements and the legal arguments underpinning them, a group of hereditary chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation claims sovereignty over the area, opposes the pipeline and says it wants to stop the project in its tracks.

Earlier this week, RCMP officers enforced the Supreme Court injunction by removing 14 protesters who were impeding the construction workers at one site. While the police handled the situation with care and their action was justified, it sparked angry protests across the nation.

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