CN Rail threatens to close network over blockades

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

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

Facing sit-ins at their offices in Toronto and Ottawa, Liberal ministers Carolyn Bennett and David Lametti separately spoke with demonstrators about their demands in support of Indigenous leaders in northern B.C. who oppose construction of the already-approved Coastal GasLink pipeline.

In an email, Natacha Gouveia, a spokesperson for food company Danone, said they had yogurt sitting on freight trains and expected the blockades to impact their ability to deliver to western Canada.

But the companies who depend on the more than 40,000 kilometres of rail criss-crossing the country to get goods to market say they're getting caught in the crossfire, after Canadian National Rail said Tuesday it had no choice but to shut down "significant" parts of its network if blockades remained.

The protests in New Hazelton and Belleville are in support of eight Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory from January 3 until Thursday when RCMP began enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to remove them. "The impact is also being felt beyond Canada's borders and is harming the country's reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner".

"We ship massive amounts of pulp to the United States and to places like Asia, so big negative impacts there", Neuheimer said in a phone interview.

Industry groups are expressing concern about the potential shutdown as shipments are delayed or cancelled.

"In Canada there's not really other alternatives to move stuff around". "They can't get their stuff out".

Via Rail said it's had to cancel 157 scheduled trips on the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, forcing at least 24,500 passengers to change their travel plans.

Tyendinaga Mohawk member Jacob Morris said Monday a court injunction forbidding interference with the railway, which was issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday at the request of CN, won't deter protesters.

In terms of the impact on the economy as a whole, one of the most recent examples of the ripple effects of shuttering railways was the CN strike last November, which prompted the temporary closure of Canada's largest potash mine and some short-term layoffs at CN itself.

The protests are in response to an injunction the RCMP has received to remove demonstrators from a blockade at the pipeline construction site on Wet'suwet'en territory in B.C. So far, 21 people have been arrested.

"We have obtained court injunctions for both locations and we are working with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders".

He also said the federal and provincial governments must find a solution that allows peaceful protest to occur without major disruptions to goods being transported across the country.

Brendan Marshall, head of economic and northern affairs at the Mining Association of Canada, said buyers of natural resource products were as vulnerable as producers - some of whom are already curtailing production.

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