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The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators


Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural-gas pipeline project in British Columbia:

 

A handful of protestors, many bundled warmly to fend off the -18C chill, milled around blocked train tracks near Belleville, Ont., this morning 

Two trucks are parked alongside the tracks and banner reading "Stop Colonization" hangs beside a pickup and camper. 

Protesters are refusing to talk to media and have asked reporters to stay hundreds of metres back from the rail lines along a snowy stretch of tracks through the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

CN and Via Rail have suspended operations on large sections of their networks in response to blockades such as the one in the Belleville area, and an injunction was granted to remove protesters.

Officers in two Ontario Provincial Police cruisers are keeping watch over the demonstration, but are even further from the scene than the media.

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Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest are among the most cherished of rights.

But he says he is "deeply concerned" about the disruption of rail services by demonstrators supporting a fight against a pipeline being built across Indigenous territory in B.C.

Speaking in Toronto, Garneau says the disruptions affect all Canadians.

He says the protests affect jobs, livelihoods and the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil, chemicals for water treatment, farming products for export and much more.

The minister says he hopes there will be peaceful resolution to the blockade disputes.

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The Mohawk Chief who governs the area near a rail blockade in eastern Ontario, said he's pleased to see B.C. officials will meet with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

Tyendinaga Chief Donald Maracle says the blockade near Belleville, Ont., was not initiated by his council but has remained peaceful and people are waiting to see what the government's response will be.

He says this is a time of passion but says it's time for "patience and calm and dialogue." 

An injunction has been granted to remove protesters from the Belleville-area blockade.

The demonstration has caused CN and Via Rail to shut vast portions of their networks. 

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A spokesman for Canadian National confirms a rail blockade that has halted train traffic to and from the Port of Prince Rupert has been lifted.

First Nations leaders raised the possibility Thursday that the four-day blockade could be lifted if federal and provincial politicians agreed to meet to discuss solutions to the ongoing dispute over construction of a natural gas pipeline through Wet'suwet'en traditional territories in northwestern B.C.

All parties have agreed to that meeting, although a date must still be arranged.

Jonathan Abecassis with CN says the blockade was removed overnight.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has failed Indigenous peoples for generations and there is no quick fix to issues sparked by construction of a natural gas pipeline on Wet'suwet'en traditional territories in British Columbia.

He says Canada is a country of laws and those laws must be enforced, but "getting the balance right" is important.

The prime minister called on all parties to move toward reconciliation.

Trudeau is in Munich today at a security conference

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The roughly 5,000 Metro Vancouver residents who rely on an express commuter train to get to work from their homes in the Fraser Valley and eastern Vancouver suburbs will have to rely on other means today.

All westbound West Coast Express trains are cancelled because of protesters on the track through Port Coquitlam.

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs oppose a pipeline through their territories in northwestern B.C., and their supporters on the Lower Mainland blocked the tracks just east of Vancouver late yesterday and remained in place through the night. 

Police prevented others from bringing supplies to the campers overnight and officers remain in place, keeping a close eye on the group but have taken no steps to remove them.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14. 2020

The Canadian Press



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