New blockades appear in Ontario, Quebec

Three arrested when protest is cleared in Toronto; no action reported on CP injunction near Montreal
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New blockades continued to appear on Canadian rail lines on Tuesday, extending the disruption of rail service which is approaching the start of its fourth week.

In the Toronto area, a protest that blocked GO Transit’s Milton line, which runs west of the city, was broken up about 3 a.m. today by police. Three people were arrested, the CBC reports.  Another blockade, in Hamilton, Ont., ended when protesters left the site about 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Canadian Press. GO’s parent organization, Metrolinx, says all commuter services are expected to operate normally today.

In Quebec, no change was reported in a blockade at Canadian Pacific’s Adirondack Junction, south of Montreal, despite a railroad injunction obtained Monday against Mohawk protesters in Kahnawake, Que. [see “CP obtains injunction against Quebec blockade,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 25, 2020]. That protest has been in place since Feb. 10, disrupting freight traffic and one route of Montreal’s Exo commuter rail system. Even after obtaining the junction, CP said it was still hoping for a peaceful resolution of the situation.

Exo says that blockade is causing it to lose C$35,000 to $45,000 each weekday, the Canadian Press reports, because of the cost of renting more than 30 buses each day to shuttle passengers around the protest. The problem is compounded by a shortage of buses and drivers, a spokeswoman said.

Another blockade was reported to have formed near Sherbrooke, Que., about 90 miles east of Montreal. About 150 protesters were at that site on Tuesday. Other blockade targets Tuesday included the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia. The blockades stem from protests over a planned pipeline through First Nations land in British Columbia.

The economic toll of the protests continues to mount. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday that nearly a quarter of businesses report they have been affected, with those businesses sustaining an average loss of $60,000.

"Many business owners across the country are telling us they have already had to suspend operations, lay off staff, or ration supplies,” Federation president Dan Kelly said in a press release. “Many are in danger of losing important contracts to other international competitors and they worry about how this will hurt their reputation with clients going forward. While there are no easy answers to this complex issue, the risks of inaction are significant too."

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