Government-brokered deal has CN, CP sharing lines to avoid blockades

Ten arrested as Belleville protest ends, but new blockades appear elsewhere
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In a deal brokered by the Canadian government, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National trains have been sharing some rail routes to bypass blockades by protesters, most notably the Tyendinaga Mohawk blockade near Belleville, Ontario, that was broken up Monday by Ontario Provincial Police.

The CBC reports the arrangement began last week but was kept quiet out of concerns that it would spark additional blockades. While trains are now running on the CN line through Belleville, the agreement is still active in other areas where blockades remain. The CBC reports that CN crews operated trains with CP locomotives to help keep the agreement a secret. Both railroads declined comment.

Ten people were arrested Monday as the blockade was cleared near Belleville starting at about 8 a.m. local time, with the first train passing through the site about 7 p.m. after a snowplow was cleared off the tracks and the right-of-way was inspected and repaired. With that line cleared, VIA Rail Canada announced plans to resume service as of Friday on a number of suspended routes. That includes Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridor service; the Montreal-Halifax Ocean; and Senneterre-Jonquiere, Quebec., service. Other suspended trains are now scheduled to resume March 2.

The end of the Tyendinaga blockade did spark additional protests. A blockade by members of the Gitxsan Nation went up near Smithers, British Columbia, on Monday afternoon, but the CBC reports arrests, including at least two hereditary chiefs, occurred at that site late Monday night. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and CN declined comment and no information on the total number of arrests was available.

This morning, another protest near Hamilton, Ont., has shut down GO Transit commuter trains between Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ont. Protesters from the Six Nations of the Grand River said they were responding to Monday’s action near Belleville.

A blockade at CP’s Adirondack Junction, which began Feb. 8, was found by a radio reporter to be unoccupied early this morning, although its status was unclear. CP has not obtained an injunction to clear that blockade, but in a Monday meeting, residents of Kahnawake, Que., expressed concerns about a repeat of a 1990 crisis in which Kahnawake Mohawks blocked a bridge for 78 days, an incident which led to the death of one police officer.

A protest that began Saturday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was continuing as of Monday, but so far, protesters there have not blocked the tracks, remaining beside the right-of-way and forcing trains to slow down, CJME radio reported.

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