Canadian Rail Companies Halt Movement While Protests Continue

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Canadian rail companies have stopped a significant amount of their movement as indigenous rights activists continue protests.

Canadian rail companies are stopping the majority of their industry-vital movement along east-west lines. This comes after numerous tribes take to blocking rail lines in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people in B.C.

With few exceptions, many of the passenger and industrial rail operations have been cancelled. The two major rail companies, CN Rail and Via Rail, announced they will process refunds for passengers. In addition, the transportation giants are considering temporary layoffs.

In a statement released by the CEO of CN Rail, he displayed the impact of the blockades.

“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protestors,”

J.J. Ruest, President and CEO of CN Rail

Last weekend the rail companies received an injunction from the court. This injunction demanded an end to the blockades and any obstruction of the rail lines. So far, these have fallen on deaf ears.

Rights versus rule of law

By law, the federal government is responsible for enforcement along rail lines. However, they have so far refused to intervene. Despite issuing requests to dismantle their blockades, local and indigenous police services have failed to act as well.

The rail line companies issued states outlining the plan to slowly begin dismantling operations. They also outlined plans to have a fast recovery option ready, should the blockades come down.

The rail companies are not the only ones upset at the effects. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce made it clear that the protests are affecting more than just rail operations. With a significant percent of goods travelling by rail, it’s only a matter of time until the effects are felt at the community level.

From jet fuel and de-icing solution to grains and food stocks, many parts of Canada’s isolated regions require the supplies brought in by rail. As a result, many people in the rail-related industries have turned to the government for failing to enforce the rule of law.

On the other side, the staunch resistance members of the indigenous and activist groups to remain at their posts. The groups claim that until RCMP officers and members leave the tribal areas in B.C., they will continue the blockades.

With the rising tensions between provincial and federal governments, and the indigenous and activist groups across the country, the decision ultimately falls to the highest level. Prime Minister Trudeau said during his visit to Germany that the rule must be followed. However, it seems the two sides remain at an impasse.