Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Industry, passengers left stranded as anti-pipeline blockades shut rail service

Industry, passengers left stranded as anti-pipeline blockades shut rail service

By Friday, there was an easing of tension: Even as demonstrators marched outside government buildings in Victoria, having held a prayer earlier in the morning to "open the hearts and minds" of politicians and the public, reports came that a rail blockade in northern B.C., near New Hazelton, had come down as government officials and protesters reached an agreed to meet.

The railway said Thursday it was starting a progressive shutdown in the East, while Via Rail cancelled all service on CN tracks in Canada.

Asked at a news conference whether Justin Trudeau should get involved, Kenney would only say, "That's for the prime minister to decide".

"We call on both federal and provincial governments to demand the RCMP immediately reconsider how it addresses peaceful protests and demonstrations, and allow the opportunity for sound discussion with a common sense approach to achieve peaceful outcomes", Maracle said in a statement.

Police said in a news release that Canadians have a right to gather peacefully but there are limitations on peacefull assembly under the Criminal Code.

"We are a country that recognizes the right to protest, but we are a country of the rule of law".

"These blockades are illegal", he said.

A 670-kilometre gas pipeline is being built by Coastal GasLink through British Columbia, which includes traditional Wet'suwet'en land.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route. "So far, the prime minister has refused to come out and call them that himself". Band councils are responsible for their own individual reserves within a territory.

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"These activists may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege", he said.

"Quite frankly this is getting ridiculous. radical activists many of whom have no connection to the Wetsuweten people are holding our country's economy hostage. meanwhile, our Prime Minister has been on a vanity project to get a vote in the United Nations, neglecting his duties here at home", said Scheer on Friday morning.

The protests have caused problems across the country, as everything from propane to chlorine to food supplies have been impacted.

Perhaps the most visible in the B.C. capital, the protests have played out across the country throughout the week, from a sit-in in Ottawa and marches in Edmonton, to rail blockades in Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario.

Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson says the backed-up rail lines are hampering producers' ability to export commodities, warning of "huge financial consequences" as farmers do not get paid until products get to market.

Teamsters Canada, the country's largest union in the transportation sector, called on the federal government to intervene.

"It's not like there's 10,000 idled trucks sitting in some subterranean basement somewhere that can just be dusted off if there's a rail stoppage".

About five or six people from the Mi'kmaq community of Listuguj have set up a campsite about a metre from the tracks, said Eric Dube, president of the Gaspesie Railway Society.

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