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'This is a difficult time': Feds hopeful solution to anti-pipeline protests can be found

Last Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 3:46 pm MST

Summary

Canada's transport minister says he's encouraged by signs of progress, but adds current situation is 'difficult'

Feds trying to work with provinces, Indigenous leaders to find some sort of peaceful resolution

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is taking aim at protesters, saying they are holding the economy hostage

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – As rail blockades continue across Canada as a part of Indigenous rights and anti-pipeline demonstrations, the Trudeau government is encouraged by signs of progress as the opposition Conservatives lash out at protesters.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he would be sitting down with Indigenous leaders and provincial counterparts in Toronto on Friday to try and work through some of the concerns from both sides, with the goal of finding a peaceful solution.

“Clearly, this is a difficult time and there is work ahead of us,” Garneau said.

Posted by NEWS 1130 on Friday, February 14, 2020

Speaking earlier in the day, he told a news conference the government will respect the right to freedom of expression, but that Ottawa was concerned about illegal protests on rail lines across the country.

The blockades have led to VIA Rail cancelling all routes across the country, and CN Rail shutting down services in Eastern Canada, all in support of some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in north central B.C. who are opposing a natural gas pipeline.

However, Garneau noted he’s encouraged that peaceful talks have led to the lifting of some blockades in B.C. and Manitoba.

“I remain hopeful that such an approach can promote a similar, positive outcome in Quebec and Ontario,” he said.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer took on a much different approach, calling protesters radical activists.

“These protesters, these activists may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege,” Scheer said.

Andrew Scheer speaks to the media about the protests in B.C. and Ontario that forced CN Rail to shut down service across the country.

Posted by NEWS 1130 on Friday, February 14, 2020

He wants the prime minister to order the RCMP to enforce court injunctions.

“We cannot allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage,” Scheer said.

However, he said he’s hopeful that Canada’s two Indigenous ministers are planning meetings with affected chiefs and protesters in B.C. and Ontario.

The government cannot say yet when those meetings will be held, and the blockade along the vital corridor in Ontario and Quebec remains blocked.

Justin Trudeau is expected to also address the matter on Friday during his trip in Germany. He spoke with B.C. Premier John Horgan on Thursday, and the two agreed to work together to end this ongoing dispute.