Canadian blockades continue; CN says layoffs 'imminent'

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday his government remained focused on resolving the protests that have blocked rail lines “quickly and peacefully,” but Canadian National Railway’s frustration at the ongoing protests is continuing to grow.

Sean Finn, CN’s senior vice president and chief legal officer told the Globe and Mail, “This has been long enough now,” urging intensified negotations to end the blockades “forthwith.” The blockades, in support of First Nation efforts to block a pipeline in British Columbia, are entering their 13th day. The Globe and Mail said nearly $350 million in freight is idled on the railroad, which has shut down operations in eastern Canada and says layoffs are imminent.

VIA Rail Canada, meanwhile, said nearly 94,000 tickets have been cancelled because of the blockades. It has cancelled all operations through Wednesday, except for two remote services operated on non-CN lines, and is not accepting new reservations before Monday, Feb. 21.

Amtrak trains are also being affected. Today’s Maple Leaf, which normally serves Toronto, will originate and terminate in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The status of today’s Adirondack, which normally serves Montreal, has not yet been reported.

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