Leftist Pipeline Protests Shuts Down Canadian Rail Networks

Cheryl Sanders
February 15, 2020

Some 5 million Canadian commuters use the intercity passenger services of Via Rail on tracks mostly owned by CN.

Without their consent, the project can not be built, they say, and they've repeatedly gone to court to stop it - without success.

That message stood in contrast to one from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who earlier Friday called on Trudeau to order Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to use his authority under the RCMP Act to end what he called the "illegal blockades" by Indigenous Peoples at the centre of a dispute over a British Columbia pipeline project. "Trudeau must end the illegal blockades", and labelled the protesters "eco-extremists".

Trains have been halted along the Toronto to Montreal/Ottawa corridor for almost a week as protesters in support of a B.C. First Nation blocked the tracks near Belleville.

"Due to the current inability to move railcars of propane to supply our branches in Central and Eastern Canada, we predict that in the coming days we will begin to experience supply shortages to many areas of the country that rely on propane to heat and power their homes and businesses, including many essential services such as hospitals and retirement homes", said Greg McCamus, Superior Propane president.

The announcement came as CN said they would shutdown their entire eastern Canadian network.

CN rail said that due to the protests, which are opposed to a $6.6 billion Coastal Gaslink natural gas pipeline project in northern British Columbia, that all rail travel east of Toronto would be systematically shut down as unions warn that up to 6,000 workers could lose their jobs as a result.

Groups including the Grain Growers of Canada, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have said rail delays are hurting members and the economy.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he would be sitting down with Indigenous leaders and provincial counterparts in Toronto on Friday to try and work through some of the concerns from both sides, with the goal of finding a peaceful solution.

There is a risk of seeing the stoppages merely as interference with the operations of profit-making companies, yet they affect all Canadians, he told a news conference Friday in Toronto. He spoke with B.C. Premier John Horgan on Thursday, and the two agreed to work together to end this ongoing dispute.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route. "It needs to be dealt with by co-operation, by consultation, by discussion so that we can all move forward".

In February, police enforced a court injunction and cleared the camps, arresting people in the process.

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