New Canadian blockade targets CP in British Columbia

Quebec protesters ignore injunction; VIA resumes some service
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Protests blocking rail lines across Canada now include a blockade of Canadian Pacific tracks near Kamloops, British Columbia, while protesters near Montreal have ignored an injunction served Thursday evening ordering them to clear a Canadian National line.

The blockades protesting a pipeline in British Columbia, and police action to clear protesters there, are entering their third week. They have led to a shutdown of much of VIA Rail Canada’s service, layoffs of VIA and CN employees, and are leading to shortages of propane and other commodities in Canada’s Atlantic provinces.

The blockade east of Kamloops — unusual for targeting CP rather than CN — began about 9 a.m. Thursday, CTV News reported. In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted on CP’s website, railroad CEO Keith Creel said the railroad is “severely impacted by the ongoing blockades,” which is “creating critical safety and security concerns.”

While Creel said the railroad fully understands the frustration of indigenous groups and supports their desire for a quick resolution, he also said, “the time for rhetoric has long since passed. Resolution requires action now.” 

At St. Lambert, Quebec, protesters were served with an injunction Thursday evening telling them their blockade of CN tracks is illegal, but the protesters remained in place as of late Thursday night and said in a statement that “the rails are blocked until further notice.” The Montreal Gazette reported that a CN spokesman said the railroad would work with local law enforcement to enforce the order, but the local police would not answer questions about the blockade, which continues to disrupt Exo commuter trains as well as CN traffic.

Meanwhile, the CBC reports that businesses in Nova Scotia are struggling to cope with the shortage of commodities created by the blockade, with one propane firm saying it is just days from going out of business, and a shipping firm reassigning its trucks assigned to the Port of Halifax. The company is picking up some additional trucking business, but says the current situation is not sustainable.

VIA resumed some service on Thursday, but routes including Montreal-Quebec City, Toronto-Ottawa, and Toronto-Montreal remain shut down. Current status of service is available on the VIA website.

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