(CD) — As Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project faces ongoing opposition, the former governor of the Bank of Canada said that protesters may die but that the government should push the project through anyway.

Speaking at an event Wednesday, David Dodge said, “We’re going to have some very unpleasant circumstances,” the Edmonton Journal reported. “There are some people that are going to die in protesting construction of this pipeline. We have to understand that.”

“Nevertheless, we have to be willing to enforce the law once it’s there,” Dodge said. “It’s going to take some fortitude to stand up.”

In an interview with the Journal, he elaborated by saying, “We have seen it other places, that equivalent of religious zeal leading to flouting of the law in a way that could lead to death.”

Dodge’s comments prompted outrage from climate activists.

Author and 350-org co-founder Bill McKibben warned, “North American governments have shown the ‘fortitude’ necessary to kill indigenous people often enough that this is no idle threat,” while Canandian author Naomi Klein called the threat a “disgrace.” She added, “If the worst happens, we now know they went into this with their eyes wide open.”

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema, meanwhile, wondered if Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would weigh in on Dodge’s remarks.

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