Protest blockades prompt CN, VIA Rail to shut down rail service

CN passenger, freight trains cancelled between Prince George and Prince Rupert due to 'blockades'

Canadian National Railway Co, the country's biggest railroad, said on Tuesday it would be forced to shut down parts of its network unless rail line blockades are removed.

The company is also stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network.

Via Rail also said it cancelled passenger train service once again between Toronto and Kingston and Montreal until normal operations can resume.

"You do not need to contact VIA Rail to confirm the refund, but note that due to the volume of transactions it may take up to 15 days to receive", says VIA Rail.

"We know that this unfortunate situation has an impact on our passengers travelling plans and we apologize for the inconvenience it is causing", Via Rail said in an email.

Neither company is saying how long the shut downs may last.

The ongoing blockades sit near Belleville, Ont., and New Hazleton in B.C.'s northern interior while other demonstrations cropped up Tuesday in locations ranging from the Halifax port to the B.C. legislature.

Meanwhile, two hereditary chiefs from the Wet'suwet'en First Nation have launched a constitutional challenge of fossil-fuel projects.

CN's potential shut down comes just days after Garneau issued a Ministerial Order requiring the slowdown of trains with 20 or more cars carrying unsafe goods following a derailment of a Canadian Pacific Railway train carrying crude oil in Guernsey, Sask. "What else do you expect us to do to try to get some attention?"

A #ShutdownCanada rally is planned in front of the Prince George RCMP detachment on Victoria Street on Saturday from 10 1 support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. However, there are some hereditary chiefs who don't want the 670-kilometer pipeline project to go through.

"Factories and mines will be soon faced with very hard decisions", said CN President and CEO JJ Ruest.

First Nations demonstrators there are protesting against a $6 billion Coastal Gaslink pipeline from going through unceded lands in the area.

"The damage is already there to the economy".

"We're happy that he's agreed to come", Mr. Maracle said.

Ryan Greer, senior director of transportation policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, echoed those concerns. "It's having an important impact on the economy of the country".

Bob Masterson, president of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, said Canada is "approaching a crisis" due to the blockades and called on the federal government to take action.

"Intermodal containers carrying perishable goods including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, de-icing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, natural resources creating rural jobs across Canada such as lumber, aluminum, coal and propane; all of these commodities are already impacted and will see their movements even more diminished".

"The global investors looking at Canada are asking the question ... do they not have a rule of law?" he said.



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