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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / As VIA, CN shut down, union joins call for end to rail blockades NEWSWIRE

As VIA, CN shut down, union joins call for end to rail blockades NEWSWIRE

By Justin Franz | February 14, 2020

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OTTAWA — Freight and passenger traffic on a large part of the Canadian rail system are at a standstill today as groups protesting the construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia continue to block rail lines from coast to coast.

On Thursday, Canadian National announced it was shutting down all of its operations in eastern Canada, from Ontario to the Maritimes, and VIA Rail announced it was suspending all passenger service across the country. “VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel most of its services until further notice,” the passenger railroad announced late Thursday. There is no estimate for when service would resume. [See “CN begins ‘progressive shutdown’ in Eastern Canada,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 13, 2020.]

At the center of the issue is a proposed 416-mile pipeline across the Wet’suwet’en land in northern British Columbia. Coastal GasLink has said it has reached deals with a number of landowners, including the Wet’suwet’en tribal government, to build the pipeline. However, the tribe’s hereditary chiefs have opposed the pipeline and say the tribal government does not have the authority to deal with GasLink. For more than a week, supporters of the Wet’suwet’en have been blocking critical transportation links like rail lines, roads and seaports.

On Thursday, CN CEO JJ Ruest called the situation “regrettable.”

The blockades have also impacted Canadian Pacific. On Thursday, a blockade on CP in the Vancouver area forced the cancellation of West Coast Express commuter service.

Officials with Teamsters Canada, the country’s largest transportation labor union representing more than 16,000 railroaders, have urged government officials to end the blockades. The union says some railroaders could be laid off if the situation goes on much further.

“These blockades are having a catastrophic impact on ordinary, working-class Canadians who have nothing to do with the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. Hundreds of our members have been out of work close to week. Now up to 6,000 of our members risk not being able to support their families or make ends meet this month, and they are powerless to do anything about it,” says Teamsters Canada President François Laporte.

15 thoughts on “As VIA, CN shut down, union joins call for end to rail blockades NEWSWIRE

  1. Add on to the previous comment. These “Protestesters” appear to be too well organized and seem to have more of an agenda. I would like to know who or what group is paying their salaries. These are Anarchist plain and simple. A jail cell awaits!

  2. Trespassing on Railroad property is against the Law . I don’t condone violence nor do I believe killing people blocking trains . I worked for Union Pacific Rail Road and have an untold amount of miles riding the lead locomotive . The last thing a train crew wants to do is kill someone either in a vehicle or a pedestrian on the track . If Protesters are ignorant enough to try to stop a moving train they will die for a stupid reason . Not only does a person or people die but the mental effect on the train crews stays with them for life and a lot of them don’t recover and are mentally disabled by the horrors of seeing the faces and eyes of those just before they hit and kill them . I know an engineer that hit three different vehicles killing people in each vehicle . The third was a station wagon with several kids watching the train hit and kill them and their mother that thought she could beat the train at a road crossing . The engineer had to be carried from the locomotive cab and was disabled and never worked another day . Protesters best be warned that if you stand in the middle of the track and think a speeding train can stop then they have shown that they don’t care for them selves or their families .

  3. Impeding interstate commerce is a federal crime in the USA. This situation would have been resolved in a day or so, especially if Homeland Security was called in. You don’t want to challenge that particular branch of law enforcement.

  4. Teamsters Canada needs to develop a back bone and negotiate a clause in the contracts that you can’t be laid off for situations out of your control.No rail union in Europe would roll over and allow their members to be treated this way.

  5. It appears that the Tribal elders do not want this pipeline, So they decided by blockading these different places including the Railroads. seaports would be the proper course of action to pursue. Costing Canada millions of dollars in lost revenues and workers their jobs. The Government could recover some of the losses if they would repeal sections 87 and 90 of the Indian Act, which States” Indians do not pay federal or provincial taxes on their personal and real property that is on a reserve”. Personal property includes goods, services, and income as defined under the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency policies. Apr 7, 2013, I wonder how long these blockades would Last. The natural gas has to get to market anyway wouldn’t that be by rail?

  6. I just flew in from Geneva and boy are my arms tired.

    Mister Pins:

    The comments below are not to be taken as a binding legal opinion and should not be relied upon for any purpose whatsoever. For proper, timely, and correct legal advice consult a licenced legal practitioner in your jurisdiction.

    Canada is a common law nation as is the United States, and in common law nations uninvited intrusion on private property is trespass. Railroad rights-of-way are in Canada, as in the US, private property. We can start with trespass. It very likely can go up from there because it is resulting in loss of ability to quietly (or perhaps not so quietly) enjoy the possession and use of the ROW by the owner(s).

    In Oregon they would likely have been cleared out by now but maybe not. In Canada the authorities are not quite as eager as they are in the US to go in, guns blazing.

    The above comments are cynical in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Thirty eight one hundredths of an inch in diameter, semi jacket, hollow point, 95 grain, Hydra-Shok(TM), +P+.

  7. A new pipe line near Pittsburgh, Pa. exploded, burning some homes and disrupting the neighborhood. If they blockaded the railroads I bet they would all be in jail.

    Mark Vinski

  8. A note in the Wall Street Journal notes that the Belleville ON blockade consists of an army of 15 people. Western civilization is committing suicide by refusing to defend itself.

  9. Again, why is the railroad the target? What part do they play, and if any, how can the railroad help their situation? I don’t understand these people. They aren’t winning anyone to their side with this action.

  10. MIKE ” …. hardly solves the problem…” What is the problem that is hardly solved?

    I have a pipeline almost by my house (natural gas) and another a few miles away (auto fuel). I’m at a loss to know what the “problem” is. As I use both commodities (natural gas and auto fuel) why would I object to the pipelines or consider them to be problems?

  11. I think it’s a pretty good guess that the First Nations people involved don’t want a gas pipeline on their land. That’s pretty simple.

    You can arrest people but that hardly solves the problem.

  12. CN says they have a court ordered injunction to remove the protesters so where are the police or maybe the RCMP to clear the tracks?

  13. Aside from the optics and the politics, can someone with knowledge of Canadian law explain the legal options here?

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