The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators
Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural-gas pipeline project in British Columbia: Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has responded to the shutdown of all transcontinental trains across the Canadian National Railway network as a result of ongoing anti-pipeline blockades. Garneau says safe and efficient passenger and freight rail service is critical to Canada's well-being and he is in constant communication with both the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways.
Via Rail has also suspended its service across Canada. He says he is to meet tomorrow with his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as representatives of national Indigenous organizations to discuss a way forward. Garneau says he is encouraged by the progress on the blockade near New Hazelton, after the B.C. and federal governments agreed to meet with Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
Speaking in Germany, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is monitoring the situation very closely and he had a long and productive conversation with B.C. Premier John Horgan while on the plane. ---
Railway shippers are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to "act decisively" to prevent a complete shutdown of Canada's rail system. Grain Growers of Canada chairman Jeff Nielsen says delays caused by the blockades will have immediate and unintended consequences for farmers across the country. He says the industry relies on export markets in order to survive, and being unable to access those markets could compound further losses on top of what he called a "harvest from hell" this year.
Canada's forest products sector accounts for 10 per cent of the total tonnage moved by rail and Derek Nighbor CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada says some companies are now in a position that they cannot guarantee delivery dates to customers. Francois Laporte, national president of Teamsters Canada, also called on the federal government to intervene, saying hundreds of his members have been unable to work for close to a week due to the blockades. ---
Metro Vancouver's transportation network TransLink says all West Coast Express trains heading eastbound from Vancouver's Waterfront station to Mission will not run Thursday afternoon. TransLink says it has been advised by Canadian Pacific Railway police to cancel service due to a group of people blocking the tracks on the Pitt River rail bridge in Coquitlam. The announcement came hours after the suspension of Via Rail passenger service across Canada and a transcontinental shutdown by the Canadian National Railway due to blockades in support of Wet-suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in their territory in northwestern B.C.
TransLink is asking its customers to use the SkyTrain and bus to get close to Mission and says the Coast Mountain Bus Company is looking at options for expanded service. --- A B.C.
Supreme Court judge has granted an injunction against further blockades at the legislature in Victoria. The injunction comes less than 24 hours before protests have said they'll block numerous B.C. government buildings in the city. Speaker Darryl Plecas asked for the injunction and Justice G.C.
Weatherill says his ruling authorizes police to arrest and remove people blocking entrances at the legislature. Hundreds of protesters attempted to prevent public servants, politicians and media from entering the legislature earlier this week. Weatherill cited social media posts calling on protesters to mobilize Friday in efforts to shut down the government in his decision to grant the injunction.
The justice says the court is concerned that protesters at the legislature blocked entrances, covered closed circuit cameras and aggressively harassed people at the building. --- The president of the BC Chamber of Commerce says ongoing protests over the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet-suwet'en territory in northwestern B.C. are having a devastating impact on the Canadian economy.
Val Litwin says the cancellation of more than 400 Canadian National Railway trains this week means everything from grain to propane for people to cook and heat their homes couldn't be delivered. He says the Chamber of Commerce respects anyone's right to peaceful protest, but blockading railways is illegal and dangerous. Litwin says the Port of Prince Rupert has no cars going in or out and it employs 3,600 people.
CN Rail said in a statement that a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., may soon come down, but the railway is shutting down its operations in Eastern Canada, which will result in a transcontinental shutdown. --- Canadian National Railway is shutting down its operations in Eastern Canada because of blockades by anti-pipeline protesters.
The railway says in a statement that illegal blockades have ended in Manitoba and may come down soon in British Columbia, but the orders of a court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored. The company says it's stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network and that may mean temporary layoffs for its eastern operational staff. Via Rail travels mostly on CN track and says it will also be shutting down all passenger service in Canada.
CN Rail says it has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers but it is now left with the only remaining responsible option of progressively shutting down eastern Canadian operations. Protesters across Canada say they're acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which crosses the traditional territories of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in northern B.C. ---
Anti-pipeline protesters are expected to rally outside numerous British Columbia government offices Friday to show solidarity with hereditary Wet'suwet'en chiefs who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in their traditional territories. B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says public servants are prepared to expect the protests but abuse of workers will not be tolerated.
He says there will be consequences if people engage in activities outside the law and he expects they will be enforced by police. Victoria's police department says it received four complaints of assault connected to protests outside the provincial legislature on Tuesday. _____
Protesters have taken down a blockade of the CN Rail line west of Winnipeg. However, the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition says there will be more action in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline running through their territory. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he would be asking the courts for an injunction to remove the blockade, but CN obtained its own court order, which was served today.
Pallister says the illegal protests are hurting the economy and he wants a conference call with his fellow premiers to demand the federal government clear up the approval process for pipelines and other resource projects. --- One of the three recipients of a letter from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says he expects a meeting between Miller and the Mohawk community will take place.
Miller has asked for a meeting and requested that a blockade of a rail line near Belleville, Ont., be halted. Tyendinaga Mohawk Chief Donald Maracle says the meeting will proceed but he can't comment on the blockade because it wasn't initiated by council. Maracle says the community is happy that the minister has agreed to come.
"We need to allow the discussion to take place." --- B.C.
Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says he will represent the provincial government at a meeting with Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Simogyet Spookw, who also goes by Norman Stephens, a chief of the Gitxsan Nation, wrote to the premier and requested a meeting. Fraser says it's "heartening" that Stephens informed the government that if it agrees to the meeting, then a rail blockade near New Hazelton will be stood down.
Stephens has not immediately responded to requests for comment. The prime minister's office says Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett will attend the meeting in B.C. on behalf of the federal government. ---
Ontario's Indigenous affairs minister says his federal counterpart should meet with First Nations activists blocking a key rail line in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution to an anti-pipeline protest. Greg Rickford says he has asked federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller to meet with activists near Belleville, Ont., protesting against a pipeline being built in northern British Columbia. Rickford says the province wants a peaceful solution to the situation and is hopeful Miller can help resolve the situation soon.
Blockade organizers across Canada have said they're acting in solidarity with those opposed to a pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation near Houston, B.C. The blockades have caused both CN and Via Rail to suspend all service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Miller has offered to meet with Indigenous leaders about the issues at a location of their choosing.
---- Several dozen demonstrators in Vancouver have occupied the constituency office of British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. Protesters' spokesman Herb Varley says they are "disrupting business as usual" to highlight what he calls Eby's participation in the "ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples."
The occupation began shortly after members of the group that blocked roads and a bridge in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday met to decide on further action in the ongoing opposition to a natural gas pipeline being built across Wet'suwet'en traditional lands in northwestern B.C. During question period in the B.C. legislature, an Opposition member inquired about the occupation, saying he was told police had to escort a staff member to safety and ensure the security of office documents. Eby is in Victoria and says although he fully supports the right to protest, it is not permissible to put his staff at risk or jeopardize any of the information in his office related to private matters with constituents. (With files from News 1130)
--- Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is offering to meet with three Indigenous leaders in Ontario as the federal government seeks a solution to rail blockades in several areas of the country, prompted by protests against a pipeline in northern British Columbia. Miller calls the situation volatile.
In exchange for the meeting, he asks for an end to protests and barricades that have halted some passenger and freight service through Ontario and Quebec. Miller's letter, posted online, says he hopes the leaders will agree to the meeting "in the spirit of peace and co-operation that should guide our relationship." The offer includes a proposal to meet wherever the Indigenous leaders choose and comes after the Assembly of First Nations and Opposition politicians urged the Liberal government to take swifter and firmer action to defuse tensions over the pipeline.
--- British Columbia Premier John Horgan has agreed to work toward a period of calm amid spreading protests over a natural gas pipeline in northwestern B.C. The premier says he expects his agreement will prompt the lifting of a blockade of the Canadian National Rail line though the region in northwestern B.C.
In a letter of response to a proposal from Gitxan Chief Norman Stephens, Horgan says either he or a senior cabinet member will attend a meeting with Indigenous leaders to discuss the impasse over the construction of the pipeline through their traditional territories. Horgan's letter says his office has informed the federal government of B.C.'s willingness to take part in the meetings and it urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to respond as quickly as possible. With the receipt of his letter and a similar commitment from the federal government, Horgan says he understands the blockade of the CN line "will be removed to allow for a period of calm and peaceful dialogue."
----- The transit authority that operates commuter trains between Montreal and its suburbs has cancelled service on one of its lines for the fourth straight day due to an Indigenous protest. Exo confirmed the cancellation of all departures on the line between Candiac, Que., and downtown Montreal.
Protesters from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake south of Montreal established a blockade near the tracks on the weekend in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposing construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Protesters have said they intend to remain at the site beside the CP Rail line as long as the RCMP is present on Wet'suwet'en First Nation territory in British Columbia. Another protest in Ontario has disrupted passenger and freight rail service between Montreal and Toronto.
In Quebec City, provincial Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to get directly involved to resolve what he called a crisis. --- The group that speaks for farmers in Saskatchewan has added its voice to those concerned about the damaging effect of rail blockades set up by opponents of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in northwestern British Columbia.
The vice-president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan says the blockades are affecting almost every commodity. Ian Boxall says dozens of ships in Vancouver are waiting to be loaded, while eight are idled in Prince Rupert. Canadian National Railway has warned it may have to close some of its rail lines if the blockades continue much longer, while Via Rail has already cancelled service on two passenger routes between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal until at least the end of the day on Friday.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says an injunction will be sought to end a rail blockade west of Winnipeg and he believes the Justice Department will have it enforced within a few days. --- Demonstrators in Victoria are promising to shut down all provincial government offices in that city on Friday as a show of solidarity with opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project being built across traditional territories of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia.
A social media post says the shutdown is being planned for between 8 a.m. and noon. It calls on settlers and union members to "take responsibility for the colonial institutions causing violence against Wet'suwet'en people." On Tuesday, hundreds of people surrounded the B.C. legislature, preventing access to the building and forcing cancellation of some of the ceremonial events leading up to the reading of the throne speech.
That demonstration and other protests across Canada are in response to RCMP enforcement of a court injunction last week against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been blocking construction of the pipeline. --- Vancouver commuters are bracing for more disruptions today as protesters supporting Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs promise further actions.
Spokeswoman Natalie Knight says a gathering is planned for the Kitsilano neighbourhood of the city. She says the group will then move to an undisclosed location. A major intersection in Vancouver was blockaded for about 16 hours earlier this week and demonstrators also paraded through the downtown core Wednesday, blocking one of the main bridges into the city centre for part of the afternoon before dispersing for the night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb.
The Canadian Press