Canada Trudeau won’t force end to railway blockades; Scheer tells protesters to ‘check their privilege’
CN shuts down eastern rail network, Via service due to anti-pipeline blockades
OTTAWA — Canadian National Railway Co. says it must shut down its entire train network in Eastern Canada due to protesters blockades. The company says that means stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network and it may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff. Via Rail says that also means shutting all its passenger service in Canada, which mostly uses CN track. CN Rail says in a statement it has sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged those demonstrating in solidarity with hereditary chiefs ofto ease up blockades along rail lines on Friday, but motioned that the federal government does not have plans to order RCMP action.
"We are not a country where politicians can order the police to do something, we are a country that has confidence in its police forces and allows them to do their work in scope of these blockade," Trudeau said, while speaking to reporters in Germany.
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Trudeau said blockades that have led to disruptions for Canadian railway services have made it a "difficult week" for the country. Blockades began in support of the B.C. First Nation's hereditary chiefs, who oppose thethrough their land.
Meanwhile, Conservative Leadersaid those demonstrating in solidarity with hereditary chiefs of should "check their privilege" on Friday while speaking to reporters in Ottawa.
Scheer called on the federal government to take more definitive action in stopping blockades.
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"These protesters, these activists have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege," he said. "They need to check their privilege and let people whose jobs depend on the railway system — small businesses, farmers — do their jobs."
Scheer said protesters are holding the Canadian economy "hostage."
CN and Via Rail have suspended operations on large sections of their networks in response to blockades such as the one in the Belleville, Ont., area, and an injunction was granted to remove protesters. The train operators have cautioned that such disruptions could pose risks to various goods and services across the country, and lead to layoffs.
"We cannot allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs," Scheer said.
'Set a deadline' to dismantle rail blockades, Legault tells Trudeau
QUEBEC — No longer excluding the use of police force, Premier François Legault has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set a deadline for the dismantling of barricades crippling rail traffic in Canada. Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C. Upping the Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C.
He added that the federal government needs to be more forceful in enforcing injunctions handed out by courts over the protests.
"I believe it's time for the law to be enforced," he added. "We have court orders, we have court injunctions; they need to be respected."
Earlier on Friday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau also called the protests "illegal."
However, he did not say the federal government would instruct the RCMP to begin enforcing injunctions on solidarity protesters.
"The federal government, along with [Indigenous Services] Minister [Marc] Miller, will be engaging with the Indigenous leaders in that region with the idea of getting those blockades removed," he said as he headed to the discussions.
The minister is meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as representatives of national Indigenous organizations and stressed that he hopes there will be peaceful resolutions to the blockade disputes.
Garneau said freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest are among the most cherished of rights but added that he is "deeply concerned" about the disruption of rail services.
Small business owners demand an end to rail blockades, warn of consequences
Small business owners demand an end to rail blockades, warn of consequencesCFIB head Dan Kelly is calling on Ottawa to work with the provinces and law enforcement to get trains back on the tracks as protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia enter their 14th day.
Garneau also held similar concerns as Scheer on the stoppage of train services.
"But it is about people's jobs and livelihoods and about the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil and chemicals for water treatment, agricultural products for export and so many other products," he said.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Trudeau also said there are no easy answers to the dispute. The prime minister said the path forward is “fraught with challenges and obstacles to overcome.”
“You need to know we have failed our Indigenous Peoples over generations, over centuries. And there is no quick fix to it,” Trudeau said, adding that all parties must move towards reconciliation.
“We also are, obviously, a country of laws. And making sure that those laws are enforced, even as there is, of course, freedom to demonstrate free and to protest,” he said.
The blockades began last week after RCMP enforced an injunction against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada export project.
Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say the company does not have consent to build on the unceded territory. The chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area and say band councils only have authority over reserve lands.
Meanwhile, Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route.
— With files from the Canadian Press
Regina protesters tell Andrew Scheer to check his privilege in latest Wet’suwet’en rally .
For the third consecutive week, supporters of Wet’suwet’en Nation have rallied in Regina to show their support to the hereditary chiefs .READ MORE: No charges after car drives through Wet’suwet’en supporters in Regina The previous two protests were held on Albert Memorial Bridge.Global News has reached out to Scheer.
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