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World Why protesters are shutting down Canada’s rail service

00:36  19 february  2020
00:36  19 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Trudeau calls for end to protests crippling Canada railways

  Trudeau calls for end to protests crippling Canada railways Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday urged a swift end to indigenous protests disrupting trains in Canada as police readied to clear tracks. Jagmeet Singh, an opposition leader, called on the prime minister to end his overseas trip and meet with the chiefs. "Across the country, the situation is escalating," he said.Police have warned protestors to leave a key rail corridor east of Toronto, or risk arrest. Ontario Provincial Police spokesman Bill Dickson told AFP they are "monitoring the situation" near Belleville, Ontario, while attempting to coax protestors off the tracks.

Via Rail , the main passenger rail carrier, shut down most of its network last week, but said it would resume some service on Thursday. Marc Miller, Canada ’ s indigenous services minister, met with the Mohawks of Tyendinaga for nearly ten hours on Saturday and reported “modest progress.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has summoned an emergency meeting of his cabinet after protesters shut down key rail routes across the country. The demonstrators want to stop a vast proposed gas pipeline over indigenous territory in northern British Columbia.

TORONTO —Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for "dialogue and mutual respect" on Tuesday as the anti-pipeline protests and blockades that have paralyzed the nation's rail system entered their 12th day.

a train on a track with smoke coming out of the snow: Smoke from wood fires rises from the camp of First Nations members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory as they block Via Rail train tracks in Ontario to protest the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Colombia.© Chris Helgren/Reuters Smoke from wood fires rises from the camp of First Nations members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory as they block Via Rail train tracks in Ontario to protest the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Colombia.

Demonstrators across the country have joined the blockades in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia, who oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline through their territory. They’ve brought most freight and passenger rail service to a standstill.

Canadian rail system shut over blockade

  Canadian rail system shut over blockade The rail disruptions come amid protests over a controversial pipeline that crosses indigenous land.CN Rail says it will be forced to shut down its eastern network, which will effectively stop all cross-country freight trains.

Another group of protesters shut down a border crossing between Niagara Falls, Ont., and Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Sunday, but left of their own accord in the late afternoon. Other solidarity protests , including a rail blockade in Tyendinaga territory near Belleville, Ont., have shut down train service

That protest and others across Canada prompted CN Rail and Via Rail to shut down huge sections of their Savard said the bridge protesters were located near the toll booth on the Canadian side of the border, and were Inside the meeting between Mohawks and Canada ' s Indigenous services minister.

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“We are not asking that you stop standing up for your communities, your rights and for what you believe,” Trudeau said during a speech in Parliament that was interrupted by heckling. “We only ask that you be willing to work with the federal government as a partner in finding solutions.”

Underlying the pipeline dispute are long-standing questions over land title, and who speaks for Canada’s indigenous people.

The standoff poses a major challenge for Trudeau, who has found his promises to fight climate change, achieve reconciliation with indigenous people and support Canada’s oil and gas sector are frequently in tension.

Canada's Trudeau scraps Barbados trip to try to resolve anti-pipeline protests

  Canada's Trudeau scraps Barbados trip to try to resolve anti-pipeline protests Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has canceled his planned trip to Barbados to help resolve widespread rail disruptions caused by indigenous rights activists opposing the construction of a natural gas pipeline, his office said on Sunday. Indigenous communities across Canada have been blocking some key railway lines for nearly two weeks in protest against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia, which has forced Canada's biggest railroad, Canadian National Railway Co, to shut operations in eastern Canada.

Protesters who are blocking railway lines forced CN Rail to shut down its train network in eastern Canada on Thursday, the railroad said. The company said that also meant stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network. Via Rail said the decision also was forcing the stoppage of all.

Protesters who are blocking railway lines forced CN Rail to shut down its train network in eastern Canada on Thursday, the railroad said. "With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive

Demonstrators outside the provincial legislature of British Columbia held an upside-down Canadian flag with “Reconciliation is dead” scrawled across.

Here’s what you need to know.

How did the protests start?

The dispute centers on the $4.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will carry natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to a $30 billion liquefied natural gas terminal on the province’s coast.

The protests began Feb. 6, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began enforcing an injunction against people in Wet’suwet’en territory who were allegedly impeding access to the construction site. Over several days, officers dismantled the camps and arrested dozens of people.

Photos and videos circulated online show RCMP officers dressed in tactical gear and armed with rifles. In one video, an officer appears to have his weapon fixed in one man’s direction; the man yells, “Take your gun off of me!”

Hundreds Protest at U.S.-Canada Border Bridge Over Pipeline Plan

  Hundreds Protest at U.S.-Canada Border Bridge Over Pipeline Plan Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's actions are speaking louder than his words when it comes to reconciliation with indigenous communities, protester organizers say.Around 200 protesters temporarily halted traffic at Rainbow International Bridge on Sunday to protest what they have warned is an "invasion of the Wet'suwet'en Nation.

Protesters blocking Canadian railways have shut down large portions of the nation' s passenger and freight Wet'suwet'en: Why B.C. is a battleground for Indigenous land rights. It' s been a week of CN and Via Rail are shutting down major sections of their railway networks as Indigenous blockades

13 — CN shuts down its operations in Eastern Canada . 15 — Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says “modest progress” was made in talks with the Mohawk First Nation over a rail blockade that’ s shut down train service across much of Eastern Canada .

a group of people standing on top of a snow covered car: Counterprotesters demsontrate against the train stoppages caused by First Nations protesters in Tyendinaga.© Alex Filipe/Reuters Counterprotesters demsontrate against the train stoppages caused by First Nations protesters in Tyendinaga.

Solidarity protests quickly spread across Canada.

Demonstrators have blocked ports, rail crossings and intersections, staged sit-ins in lawmakers’ offices, shut down two bridges to the United States and disrupted Amtrak service from Bellingham, Wash., to Vancouver.

Indigenous peoples are divided over the project. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 of the elected indigenous band councils along the 416-mile pipeline route, including five Wet’suwet’en band councils. But Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who assert control over some 8,500 square miles that includes the pipeline route, oppose the project.

What’s the difference between a band council and a hereditary chief?

The elected band council system was established by the Indian Act of 1876, shortly after Canada’s confederation. The law forced some indigenous people onto reserves and laid out their system of governance.

The band councils “function as sort of intermediaries between the people and the federal Crown,” said University of Toronto law professor Douglas Sanderson, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. The system was “imposed” on them, he said; “No questions were asked of indigenous people at any point in time about the Indian Act.”

Canada PM calls for peaceful solution to crippling rail blockades

  Canada PM calls for peaceful solution to crippling rail blockades Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday against the use of force to resolve a rail blockade sparked by indigenous protesters and now in its second week. Passenger and freight traffic has come to a halt in eastern Canada as native Americans protest in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en indigenous people in British Columbia, who are up in arms over a proposed gas pipeline that would go through their traditional lands. "Those who wouldPassenger and freight traffic has come to a halt in eastern Canada as native Americans protest in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en indigenous people in British Columbia, who are up in arms over a proposed gas pipeline that would go through their traditional lands.

But well before confederation, the Wet’suwet’en Nation had its own leadership and governance system — one that continues to this day. It’s organized into five clans and 13 houses, each with its own hereditary chief.

In most of Canada, land rights are determined by treaties signed between the Crown and indigenous groups. But in British Columbia, there are few treaties, and most land — including Wet’suwet’en territory — is unceded.

The hereditary chiefs assert that band councils have jurisdiction only over the reserve lands created by the federal government, not the broader traditional territories where part of the pipeline is proposed.

In 1997, a land claim case involving the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan people made its way to Canada’s Supreme Court. It ruled that indigenous title to land does exist and was not “extinguished” at the time of Confederation, but it did not resolve questions of title for either group.

What has been the impact of the protests?

The most disruptive of the protests is adjacent to a rail crossing near Belleville, Ontario, between Toronto and Montreal, set up by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. The busy corridor links eastern Canada to western Canada and the U.S. Midwest.

Canadian National Railway, the country’s largest freight rail carrier, has shut down its operations in eastern Canada. Via Rail, the main passenger rail carrier, shut down most of its network last week but said it would resume some service Thursday.

Trudeau says indigenous groups must end crippling rail blockades

  Trudeau says indigenous groups must end crippling rail blockades Crippling blockades of key Canadian rail arteries "must now come down," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday, acknowledging that attempts at dialogue to end two weeks of indigenous protests had failed. Under pressure to end the crisis, Trudeau sought to establish a dialogue with indigenous leaders behind the protests. Federal police, meanwhile, offered to retreat from the site on Wet'suwet'en lands where protesters blocked workers building the Can$6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline.But on Friday, Trudeau said those official overtures had gone unanswered."We can't have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table," he said.

a large long train on a steel track: A Canadian National Railway freight train remains halted near Tyendinaga.© Chris Helgren/Reuters A Canadian National Railway freight train remains halted near Tyendinaga.

CN Rail spokesman Alexandre Boulé said the company has issued 450 temporary layoff notices and could add as many as 1,000 more if the situation is unresolved. He said the protesters’ proximity to the crossing makes it impossible to operate safely.

CN Rail transports nearly $190 billion in goods annually. Several industry groups have warned of disruptions to supply chains and looming shortages of everything from propane and groceries to chemicals to treat drinking water.

The carrier has obtained several injunctions against the blockade near Belleville, but the Ontario Provincial Police have not taken any direct action to dismantle it.

How has the government responded?

Trudeau, whose government was reduced to a minority in last year’s federal election, has been accused of being slow to respond to the protests. He was in Africa to build support for Canada’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat when the protests began and canceled a trip to Barbados this week to convene an emergency meeting with his cabinet.

Marc Miller, Canada’s indigenous services minister, met with the Mohawks of Tyendinaga for nearly 10 hours on Saturday and reported “modest progress.” The protesters insist they’re not leaving until the RCMP leaves Wet’suwet’en territory.

Trudeau has resisted calls to respond more forcefully. He has opted instead for “dialogue” during what he described as a “critical” moment for the country. Front of mind for Ottawa are several instances of police raids on indigenous protests in recent decades that turned deadly.

Andrew Scheer, the outgoing leader of the federal Conservative Party, called Trudeau’s speech in Parliament on Tuesday a “word salad” and “the weakest response to a national crisis in Canadian history.”

He accused “radical activists” of holding the economy hostage. Scheer was criticized last week for calling on the demonstrators to “check their privilege.”

Trudeau said finding a solution will not be “simple.”

“On all sides, people are upset and frustrated. I get it,” he said. “It’s understandable because this is about things that matter: rights and livelihoods, the rule of law and our democracy.”

foreign@washpost.com

Police move in to clear Canada rail blockade .
Ontario police moved in Monday to clear indigenous protestors fighting a new pipeline who have caused major disruptions to the Canadian economy by blocking a key east-west rail artery for nearly three weeks. Ontario Provincial Police began clearing the line at 8:15 am (1315 GMT) Monday morning after a midnight deadline for the blockade's removal passed unheeded.Ontario police moved in Monday to clear indigenous protesters fighting a new pipeline who have caused major disruptions to the Canadian economy by blocking a key east-west rail artery for nearly three weeks.

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