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Hereditary chief calls for gathering of clans as protests disrupt lives, movement of goods

Last Updated Feb 12, 2020 at 4:37 pm MDT

Protesters block a set of train tracks in East Vancouver, Monday, February, 10, 2020. The protesters are standing in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en members opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

With rail shipments at a virtual stand-still in Canada, the impacts of anti-pipeline protesters are adding up

CN Rail says parked train cars full of commodities and consumer goods are piling up across the country

Protesters have set up blockades along a number of rail lines for days

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Protests in solidarity of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing an LNG pipeline in B.C. are taking place across the country, impacting day-to-day life as well as the movement of goods.

CN Rail has warned about major shutdowns that could leave store shelves empty as ports get hit by the impacts of blockades and demonstrations.

The Port of Prince Rupert has “effectively been shut down,” with the port authority adding there are about 6,000 jobs in the north central interior impacted as demonstrators block the rail line in and out of terminals.

In Ontario, another blockade has caused a trickle down effect at the Halifax and Montreal ports, where CN Rail has aquired injunctions. Menawhile, Via Rail has cancelled service from Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa.

“…We have also engaged with customers, industry associations as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN.

The company said it has been working with police on enforcement plans, with the hopes of getting business back on track.

“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains” Ruest explained. “We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end.”

According to the company, CN transports more than $250-billion worth of goods every year for a number of industries.

“Intermodal containers carrying perishable goods including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, deicing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, natural resources creating rural jobs across Canada such as lumber, aluminum, coal and propane; all of these commodities are already impacted and will see their movements even more diminished. Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions,” Ruest added.

With public backlash growing and no sign protests are slowing, a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief has spoken up, calling on his fellow leaders to come together and work things out.

APTN reported Andrew George, whose traditional name is Skit’den, has sent a letter to the relevant B.C. politicians, hereditary chiefs, and elected councilors.

He said such a meeting should happen as soon as this week at the Wet’suwet’en Feasting Hall and that every house should be given a chance to speak.

Other community members say they have been bullied and harassed and are afraid to speak up in support of the pipeine as divisions deepen over the attention the protests have brought to the normally quiet northern towns and villages.