WINNIPEG — Police in Winnipeg are investigating graffiti at the headquarters of the Manitoba RCMP, the Canadian Museum For Human Rights and a politician’s office.

The buildings, as well as a monument outside the RCMP office, were spray-painted with slogans that appear to be linked to protests against a planned natural gas pipeline through Wet’suwet’en First Nation land in British Columbia.

One phrase read “Land back” and another said “Shut Down KKKanada.”

Others were written outside the constituency office of federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal — the same office that was occupied by protesters for more than a week earlier this month.

Police said in a written statement that they are investigating the three instances of graffiti as being linked, but not as a hate crime.

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism and said the provincial government is eyeing a proposed law in Alberta that would stiffen penalties for protesters who shut down critical economic infrastructure, including railways.

“Certainly when it comes to vandalism like this, again, it’s just so unfortunate that people will stoop to these types of endeavours,” Cullen said Wednesday.

“We will stand beside the police. We know they’re facing challenges. They have a difficult job to do, but certainly they use their expertise in making the decisions they do.”

A bill mentioned in Alberta’s throne speech Tuesday proposes penalties for individuals be up to $10,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for each subsequent day a blockade or protest remained in place.

Cullen said he has asked his officials to review the bill, given the effect the protests are having across Canada.

“We know there is implications to individuals, implications to the economy, and certainly Alberta recognized that,” Cullen said.

“We will obviously review their legislation and see what steps we may or may not take into the future.”

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy organization for First Nations, said supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs need to remain respectful and peaceful.

“We must remember that peaceful protests are legal in Canada,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a statement Wednesday. 

“They have been used numerous times throughout the history of this country to fight injustice and to bring fair and just treatment to disadvantaged and minority groups, which has led to the improvement of our democracy.”

An anti-pipeline demonstration shut down Winnipeg’s busiest downtown intersection — Portage Avenue and Main Street — during Wednesday’s afternoon rush hour. A few hundred protesters held a round dance across the historic junction and waved flags and placards. 

Police diverted traffic at least a block away in each direction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2020

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press