Labrador protesters meet with MHA they want to resign
The two sides held a sharing circle-style meeting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Monday afternoon
A group calling itself Labrador Land Protectors has reached a truce with the government office it has tried to close through protests, and the day ended Monday with a meeting in that same building, with the minister they have asked to resign.
- Protesters served papers to leave government offices in Happy Valley-Goose Bay
- Government office in Labrador stays open despite Muskrat Falls protest
"We did things traditionally, sharing circle-style and went around so everybody got to voice what they feel are their concerns," said group member Denise Cole, in an interview outside the Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs office.
Her assessment of the meeting with Environment Minister Perry Trimper was not entirely complimentary.
"[Trimper] said he was happy to see communication done this way but in all honesty of course he is — because this is what government is used to where you just sit and talk and talk and talk."
The meeting followed a court hearing Monday into the protest group's blocking of access to the government office on Friday, Jan. 13, part of a protest against the Muskrat Falls project.
Defence argued the injunction infringed upon the protesters' fundamental rights and freedoms.
Group came to agreement during recess. Meeting with Trimper at 1:00. Injunction dropped. Group can gather outside office but not block entry <a href="https://t.co/hM3TPF7uJr">pic.twitter.com/hM3TPF7uJr</a>—@KatieBreenNL
But the matter was adjourned for a break, during which the two sides came to a verbal truce.
"We certainly understand the right to protest respectfully and peacefully and you can do that at your leisure when you want to as long as we have access to the building," said Deputy Minister Ron Bowles.
"If we could get some kind of agreement there, I understand that we will move forward and alter the injunction and remove the injunction if that's an agreement that we can come to today."
"If we can open up lines of communication, you have our word as land protectors that we won't block access," Cole said.
Understands the 'frustration'
Trimper, the MHA for Upper Lake Melville said the meeting went "well" despite the group actively calling for his resignation along with the end of the megaproject, and for Premier Dwight Ball to step down as the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.
"It is frustrating for people, they don't get to see [Ball] as often as they've done for previous ministers — no question," Trimper said.
"What I can reassure people is that we have so much opportunity to speak to the top of the decision making in our government."
He said Labrador's four MHAs have met with the Premier about six to eight times in 14 months to discuss regional issues.
It is frustrating for people, they don't get to see [Ball] as often as they've done for previous ministers,- Perry Trimper
He also said Ball would be in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on other business in February and that he would be forwarding along the group's request to hold a meeting.
"[Ball] needs to make this a priority," Cole said.
"It shouldn't just be when he happens to be in town. The land protectors aren't going anywhere and the longer he resists this the stronger we become."