Moe says blockades are hijacking rail access and illegally disrupting the daily lives of Canadians

CN shuts down much of its network due to protests

Regina, Montreal – Premier Scott Moe’s position on blockades and pipeline protests was made clear in a Facebook post he made on Feb. 12. They must end.  

In sharing a National Post article entitled, “Wet'suwet'en solidarity blockade: CN Rail says 'significant' parts of rail network may close if protests go on,” Moe wrote, “On Monday, I returned from Washington, D.C. from meetings with key decision makers in the United States. One of the topics that came up repeatedly was the discussion surrounding cross-border infrastructure, particularly pipelines. These discussions became all the more relevant after a train derailment that we now know released 1.2 million litres of oil just outside of Guernsey.

“Let me be clear: the oil on that train should have been in a pipeline. Pipeline projects should be supported as the safest method of transporting some of the most sustainable energy products in the world, and the construction of these projects puts thousands along the routes to work.

“Contrary to this, we see the national conversation around pipelines devolving into a discussion around protestors holding nationwide blockades illegally. These blockades are hijacking rail access and illegally disrupting the daily lives of Canadians, targeting legislators or intimidating journalists. Yesterday, CN issued warnings that their rail system could be shut down due to these blockades, vastly impacting one of our only methods of transporting products like sustainable agricultural, potash or manufacturing goods.

“The rule of law is a fundamental pillar of our Canadian democracy. When did the right to protest turn into the right to illegally impede the lives and livelihoods of law abiding Canadians?” Moe concluded.

On Feb. 11, CN put out a press release from Montreal, stating, “CN announced that it will be forced to shut down significant parts of its Canadian network imminently unless the blockades on its rail lines are removed.”

“A public statement from the individuals blocking the lines explained that their actions are in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and are unrelated to CN's activities.

CN said the blockades near Belleville, ON, on the railway’s only eastern link between Western Canada and Eastern Canada and between Eastern Canada and the US Mid-West and on CN’s northern mainline in B.C. between Prince George and Prince Rupert, are impacting all Canadians’ ability to move goods and enable trade. There are currently no movements of any trains, freight or passenger, at both those locations. Hundreds of trains have been canceled since the blockades began five days ago. 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.

“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN. “We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end.

“Intermodal containers carrying perishable goods including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, deicing 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. Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions. The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown. The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” added Ruest.  

“We have obtained court injunctions for both locations and we are working with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders. We have also engaged with customers, industry associations as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents,” concluded Ruest.

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