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Federal transport minister 'deeply concerned' by impact of protests on rail, plans meeting with provinces

Kanenhariyo, centre right, speaks to an OPP Liasion team as members of the Mohawk Territory block the CN/VIA train tracks for a sixth day in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. The RCMP has formally ended its enforcement operations in a region of northern B.C. that's at the centre of a pipeline dispute as protests across the country continue to cause disruptions, most notably to Canada's rail network. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Summary

Federal minister will meet with provinces, Indigenous groups to talk about ongoing anti-pipeline protests

Blockades set up in parts of the country have forced CN Rail to halt in Eastern Canada

Via Rail also says it has no other option but to cancel all passenger service on CN tracks in Canada

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Transport Minister Marc Garneau says he will meet with his provincial counterparts and representatives of Indigenous organizations on Friday to discuss a way forward, as Canadian National Railway shuts down its eastern network, having a domino effect on business nation-wide.

The halt is due to ongoing blockades set up across Canada by protesters expressing solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in north central B.C. who oppose a natural gas pipeline running through their territory.

Via Rail also says it has no other option but to cancel all passenger service on CN tracks in Canada, most likely hampering long weekend plans for travellers in some provinces. Meanwhile, more locally, demonstrators have blocked the West Coast Express, the main transit option for people living as far out as Mission to commute to Vancouver.

“I am fully aware and deeply concerned by the impact of the decision CN was forced to take and its consequent effect on Via Rail,” Garneau says in a tweet. “A safe and efficient passenger and freight rail service is critical to the well-being of our country. I am in constant communication with CN and CP.”

He adds ministers across Canada have continued to “engage with their colleagues,” and that the feds are keeping in contact with provinces.

“All parties must engage in open and respectful dialogue to ensure this situation is resolved peacefully,” another tweet reads.

Anti-pipeline protesters are also planning mass demonstrations at numerous government buildings in B.C. on Friday, days after hundreds blocked the entrances to the B.C. legislature and chanted “Shame.” On Thursday, demonstrators occupied the constituency office of MLA and Attorney General David Eby in Vancouver, but he was in Victoria at the time.