'We're gonna uphold the law': Police chief says safety is priority during rail protests
EDMONTON -- Edmonton's top cop says his force will uphold the law if there are more CN Rail line blockades in the city but added no one would tell his police force how to do that.
A judge granted the freight company a 30-day injunction throughout Alberta Wednesday after a demonstration and counter protest took place on its line west of Edmonton.
Edmonton Police Service monitored the action, and said it had been ready to assist CN Rail Police, if required.
"There's the right to protest, but there's also a right to go to work," McFee told media Thursday. "I think we go to balance that and make the right decision at the right time based on each situation."
EPS estimated 70 people — both in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and against Coastal Gas Link opposition — attended.
The blockade was dismantled in the afternoon, after a justice granted the injunction to CN, by both protesters and counter protesters.
There were no arrests, McFee said, because the demonstration ended on its own.
"There was no conflict," he explained.
"It was all taken down without confrontation and ultimately that's what you want to get to."
However, he said either party could have prompted police response.
"It's a safety issue. Counter protest, protest, the key word is it's a protest, right?"
POLICE EXPECTED TO 'ACT EXPEDITIOUSLY': JUSTICE MINISTER
On Wednesday, Doug Schweitzer twice commented on the role of law enforcement in the blockades.
In response to the Schweitzer's comments, McFee said EPS serves the public.
"Let's put it this way: I don't look at those statements.
"We're going to do what's right for policing and what's right for our citizens."
LAWFUL ASSEMBLY UNDER THE CRIMINAL CODE
Canada's Criminal Code describes unlawful assembly as a group of three or more people who others in the area believe will, or will provoke others, to disturb peace.
According to the law, lawful gatherings can become illegal.
Unlawful assembly is punishable as a summary conviction in Canada. It can become an indictable offence if a person is wearing a mask or disguise.
An unlawful assembly becomes a riot when it "has begun to disturb the peace tumultuously," according to the code.
Rioting is an indictable offence and can result in jail sentences up to two years.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett