Trudeau says rail blockades have to end

Trudeau says rail blockades have to end

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday indigenous barricades that are blocking rail service across Canada and hurting the economy have to come down now.

Trudeau said that court injunctions must be obeyed and that the situation is unacceptable and untenable and every attempt at dialogue has been made over the last two weeks.

Protesters later left a barricade site south of Montreal late Friday after riot police arrived. They earlier had begun dismantling their encampment. A spokesman for the protesters vowed that other blockades would appear, and protesters remained at other rail protests sites.

Demonstrators have set up blockades in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec in solidarity with opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia. Some hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural gas pipeline, though it has received approval from elected band councils.

Trudeau said some people can’t get to work and others have lost their jobs. He said there is no point making the same overtures to indigenous leaders if they aren’t accepted.

“We can’t have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table,” Trudeau said. “The onus is on them.”

Via Rail, Canada’s passenger train service, said this week it is temporarily laying off 1,000 employees due to the continued halt in service on CN Rail’s tracks in eastern Canada caused by the blockades. CN Rail also announced 450 temporary layoffs.

The crisis is daily stranding goods worth an an estimated 425 million Canadian dollars ($340 million), according to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters trade group.

Trudeau said the army won’t be called in, saying troops aren’t used against Canadian citizens. He said removing the barricades must be done peacefully.

“Police have a job to do, but how they do that, when they do that, no politician gets to say,” he said.

The prime minister said officials have feared from the start that the situation could get worse and spent the last two weeks showing good faith in an effort to resolve the dispute. He said it would be lamentable if there was violence when the barricades are taken down, but added that Canadians cannot continue to suffer as a result of the rail shut down.

Trudeau has made reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations a priority for his government but the blockades could risk public support.

“We are waiting for Indigenous leadership to show that it understands,” he said.

Trudeau met with his top Cabinet ministers Friday. Repeated offers to have ministers meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to address their issues have not been accepted, Trudeau’s office said.

One of the traditional chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation said his people are willing to engage in talks, but not until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia have left traditional Wet’suwet’en territory entirely and Coastal GasLink, the pipeline company, ceases work in the area.

Until their demands are met, the barricade in Ontario erected by the Mohawks at Tyendinaga will not come down, said Kanenhariyo, who also goes by Seth LaFort, of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.

Hereditary Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, took issue with Trudeau’s comments that the blockades are causing trouble for Canadians, suggesting the Wet’suwet’en are facing injustice.

“There is a difference between inconvenience and injustice — total difference. Don’t confuse one with the other,” he said.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the disruption is costing the province about 100 million Canadian dollars ($75 million) a day.

The blockades have led to backlogs at Canada’s three biggest ports, prompting some shippers to take their business to the U.S. as cargo piles up.

In Montreal, some 4,000 containers sit immobilized on the docks and Prairie bulk products like grain can no longer reach the port. The number of ships waiting at anchor to enter Vancouver-area terminals has more than doubled to 50 due to the clogged transportation system, though no vessels are opting for U.S. ports as a result, said Vancouver Fraser Port Authority spokeswoman Melanie Nadeau.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police have charged two men after they allegedly tried to break into the Bentley post office with a semi. (Photo courtesy of RCMP)
Red Deer men charged in Bentley post office destruction

Police have charged a pair of Red Deer men after an attempted… Continue reading

Red Deer Fire Chief Ken McMullen remains concerned about “inconsistencies” in the province’s new way of dispatching local ambulances. (Advocate file photo).
A few glitches are already noticed in Red Deer’s new ambulance dispatch system

Local fire-medics need more data about ambulance arrival times

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported Tuesday that province’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 4.4 per cent . (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Cervus Equipment is planning to set up a new location near Highways 2 and 42 in Red Deer County. Graphic contributed
Cervus Equipment eyeing new Red Deer County location

Farm equipment busy looking to set up near Highways 2 and 42

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

The corporate logo of Enerplus Corp., Calgary-based oil and gas producer, is shown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Calgary’s Enerplus announces US$465M takeover as court rules against N.D. pipeline

Calgary’s Enerplus announces US$465M takeover as court rules against N.D. pipeline

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions after announcing $43 million in repairs and improvements to provincial parks at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Members of Kenney’s caucus have refused an Opposition NDP bid to make public details of Alberta’s $7.5-billion investment in the failed Keystone XL pipeline project.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Members of Kenney’s UCP caucus nix NDP bid to seek details of failed Keystone XL deal

Members of Kenney’s UCP caucus nix NDP bid to seek details of failed Keystone XL deal

The Nutrien Ltd. (TSX:NTR) corporate logo is seen in this undated handout photo. Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it will expand a proximity alarm and contact tracing technology to help protect 14,500 of its employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Nutrien MANDATORY CREDIT
Fertilizer giant Nutrien expands use of proximity alarms to battle COVID-19 pandemic

Fertilizer giant Nutrien expands use of proximity alarms to battle COVID-19 pandemic

Conservative MP Tracy Gray rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Opposition Conservatives are urging the federal government to push back on President Joe Biden's protectionist Buy American plan.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM

If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown in Toronto on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Energy, technology lead S&P/TSX composite to largest daily decline since mid-December

Energy, technology lead S&P/TSX composite to largest daily decline since mid-December

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

Conservative MP Tracy Gray rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Opposition Conservatives are urging the federal government to push back on President Joe Biden’s protectionist Buy American plan.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Opposition urges Liberal government to push back against Biden’s Buy American plan

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — The Opposition Conservatives are urging the federal government… Continue reading

Most Read