Looking back, Toronto looked a lot like the trial run. The first protests began outside Enbridge's offices, the BC legislature, and several places along the route. Then access roads to the workcamps were blocked by protesters. Spiked trees on the route and the usual suspects chaining themselves up, followed by the subsequently largely peaceful arrests. The RCMP were initially surprised at the numbers of protesters, however, and reinforced their local detachments. Soon they ran out of enough people, and like Toronto a few years earlier, imported police from other forces around the country, eventually commandeering entire hotels and motels. Several town councils took symbolic votes to expel the police, who then began to fortify local detachments or move them out of communities.
Enbridge subsequently complained that they couldn't proceed with construction due to security concerns for its brigade of $10 000/month 20 year old pipeline workers who found themselves blocked from worksites, cursed by protesters, and a number had their pick-up trucks vandalised. In response, the federal government passed the Protection of Canadians and Eco-Terrorism Prevention Act, which expanded security budgets and powers of arrest and detention within zones designated by the minister for public safety and minister of natural resources. The Public Safety minister stated "this well help protect hard-working Canadians from the seditious BC separatists and eco-terrorists." The charitable status of most environmental organisations was suspended, with some prominent groups listed as terrorist. Greenpeace was banned outright. Activists from all over Canada and around the world poured into BC, although many were stopped at the border by immigration officials. A permanent concrete riot wall was placed around the BC legislature building and painted with cartoon whales and fishes so as not to scare away the summer tourists.
Armed road blocks appeared, and construction equipment was torched. After a brief exchange of fire between police and locals, the government brought in the Army and blamed the problem, for the first time, on "Cascadian separatists" who "like the FLQ, hated Canada." Police door-kickers backed up by the army went through neighbourhoods and detained and questioned virtually anyone who had signed a petition or held membership a blacklisted organisation. Reconnaissance drone aircraft loitered high overhead. Aircraft hobbyists identified them as Reaper aircraft, which Canada curiously did not possess. Further investigation by the media and a leaked DND memo revealed they were flying from Comox, controlled from Nevada, and deployed under the Canada-US Civil Assistance Plan. When confronted with Opposition demands for an explanation, the defence minister responded, saying "the valuable experience of interoperating with our American allies in fighting terrorists in Afghanistan is now helping us defeat the terrorists at home."
How far are they willing to go?