Blockades lead to VIA, CN layoffs

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VIA Rail Canada has laid off 1,000 workers as a result of the blockades of rail lines at locations across Canada, joining about 450 Canadian National workers laid off earlier this week. Some of the Canadian passenger carrier’s plans to partially restore service were thwarted Wednesday as new blockades appeared.

The blockades are part of nationwide protests over a pipeline project in British Columbia, which is opposed by some members of the First Nations group whose land the pipeline would cross. They are entering their 14th day.

In addition to the longest-running blockade, near Belleville, Ontario, the Associated Press reports new blockades appeared Wednesday near Edmonton and in St. Lambert, Quebec, near Montreal. The Edmonton blockade was short-lived, but the St. Lambert blockade prevented planned resumption of VIA service between Monteral and Quebec City, which is now cancelled through Friday. The St. Lambert blockade has also led to some cancellations by commuter rail operator Exo, the Montreal Gazette reports.

VIA still says it will resume full service on a number of routes today, with full service between Toronto and Windsor, Ont., Toronto and Sarnia, Ont., and Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ont. Partial service will be available between Montreal and Ottawa on weekdays, with full weekend service.

Other services on CN routes are cancelled until at least Sunday, Feb. 23, with some cancelled through Wednesday, Feb. 26. More complete information is available at VIA’s website.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to call for negotiations rather than the use of force to end the blockades, but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants police to enforce court orders. “What is happening here is anarchy,” Kenney said.

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