Police prepare to remove anti-pipeline protestors from blocking train tracks
Police are preparing to clear the CN Rail train tracks in Belleville, Ontario, of demonstrators who managed to halt all train travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, according to CBC News.
On Tuesday, police officers warned those who had gathered at the tracks that they should leave or face arrest if they did not leave. It is unclear how many protestors will actually leave willingly.
Since the protest began last Thursday, Via Rail has had to cancel 157 trips, leaving at least 24,500 passengers stranded. All freight trains carrying goods across the country are halted as well.
Although the demonstrators did not place any objects on the tracks itself, they did set up camp in a location that was too close to the tracks for the trains to pass safely.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he would not intervene in any of the #ShutDownCanada protests. Conservative leaders, on the other hand, were outraged by Trudeau’s lack of leadership in dealing with the shutting down of major highways and railways.
The President of the National Coalition of Chiefs, Dale Swampy has claimed that some anti-pipeline protestors are being paid by environmental activists groups.
“People who are opposed to the project–even though we respect their position on the matter–should respect the fact that the majority of the First Nations support the project through their elected officials,” said Swampy to APTN News.
But Swampy also intimated that not only do the majority of pipeline protesters have no connection to any First Nations people, they may also be getting paid to protest by environmental groups.
“I don’t think they’re Indigenous,” he said. “People in our communities around Calgary have been offered money to protest on the streets of Calgary and the streets of Vancouver.”
Swampy claimed people were promised $300 per day and up to $500 if they wore a headdress. “They choose people who are disenfranchised, who have no job, no education, are in poverty, collecting welfare,” he said. “It’s a real concern for us that these corrupt environmentalists are taking advantage of our poor people, putting them in front of RCMP.”
This claim has yet to be proven with documentation.
The protests surrounding the Coastal GasLink pipeline have been going on for weeks now and there is much confusion surrounding the issue. The protestors have been heavily covered in the mainstream media as doing so in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, however the reality is there are only some hereditary chiefs who are opposed to the pipeline.
“The recent conflict between the RCMP and the professional protesters, who wrongfully use Wet’suwet’en ancestry as the means to advance their agenda, are putting Wet’suwet’en community members at risk,” said hereditary Chief of the Gidimt’en Grizzly House Andrew George to APTN News.
Coastal GasLink has met all regulatory and environmental guidelines. The company has also signed pipeline benefit agreements with all 20 elected First Nation band councils along the route. This includes five of the six elected councils in Wet’suwet’en Nation.
The vast majority of anti-pipeline protestors don’t speak on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en people despite themselves, and many media outlets claiming otherwise. There are 634 First Nations in Canada.
Swampy said, “We believe there are as many as 400 chiefs across the country that want to work with the natural resource industry–including alongside the CGL pipeline right-of-way,”
An extraordinary scene unfolded in Edmonton this afternoon as citizens drove to the site of an anti-pipeline train blockade, tore it down, and loaded it into a truck.
Global TV’s Nicole Stillger tweeted “Counter-protestors hauling away the blockade and loading it into this truck.”
People are beginning to speak up and take action against the anti-pipeline protests and blockades as Canada’s economy is stalling.
City News’ Carly Robinson revealed via Twitter that the protestors had been served with an injunction.
Fletcher Kent of Global added that “Counter protesters in Edmonton have all but hauled away the barricades on the CN tracks. A protester is talking like it’s all over now. A few protesters have walked away already.”
Earlier today, Minister Doug Schweitzer posted on Twitter in response to the Cuzzins of Wetsuweten protests, calling the blocking of economic infrastructure “an offence [that] will not be tolerated.”
The blockade is the work of the “Cuzzins of Wet’suwet’en” group that was endorsed by Extinction Rebellion Edmonton.
The protests and blockades throughout Canada are a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Despite the protests, the Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council and the majority of hereditary chiefs support the pipeline project.
As for the blockade in Edmonton, the tracks are now clear.
The Premier of Quebec has expressed his concern of Prime Minister Trudeau’s handling of the anti-pipeline protestors at the National Assembly, Tuesday.
“[Mr. Trudeau] wants it to be done in peace. We agree with that, but there must be results and, for the moment, the situation has become very dramatic for the Quebec economy,” said Mr. Legault told the press. The federal government must resolve the crisis in the short term, in “the next few days,” he said otherwise the situation will only get worse.
In particular, the Premier of Quebec says he is worried that the Port of Montreal will no longer be able to receive new goods because there will be no space to store them. Legault also expressed concerns that stores may soon start to run out of certain items according to Le Journal de Quebec.
“We are losing control. I don’t want to fall back into the propane crisis with the farmers, I don’t want people to be unable to take off from planes because there is no more fuel,” said François Legault.
Justin Trudeau has been the subject of much criticism for being abroad while the country was at an impasse. Trudeau has stated that he would like all parties involved to remain “patient” until a peaceful resolution can be reached.
The Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller and the Mohawks of Tyendinaga, Ontario held a meeting at a local community centre for many hours although they have not released much details on what their conversations entailed.
Analysts are suggesting that the anti-pipeline protests that have blockaded railways, roads and certain ports are likely to result in a spike in gas prices.
The railroad tracks in Belleville, Ont. have now been halted for the last 12 straight days and don’t have an end date in sight at this time. The protestors vow to remain there until the government cancels the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline that will partially run through the unceded land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations.
The consequences of these blockades are already being felt across the country as the movement of goods has been greatly delayed. Experts now say that gas prices in Lower Mainland BC are expected to rise as a result of these protests.
Kent Fellows, an Alberta-based economist at the University of Calgary predicts the spike could be anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per litre. “If blockades persist you will definitely see an increase in fuel prices… A lot of the volume that is coming in from Alberta refineries to the Lower Mainland is now on rail.”
CTV News Vancouver interviewed commuters in the Vancouver area and they expressed their frustration.
“I mean, everything goes up all the time. Especially in this city (Vancouver). So it’s just another thing to endure,” driver Mike Freides said.
“You can’t go without gas, much like you can’t go without utilities or food. It’s above my paygrade to solve that problem.”
Trudeau recently held a meeting to attempt to remedy the problem of growing frustrations on both sides of the issue.
“I understand how worrisome this is, and difficult. We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Port of Vancouver has also been affected by the demonstrations, preventing the loading and unloading of cargo.
“Demand for anchorage is currently exceeding the availability, causing a backlog of ships waiting to get into port,” said a spokesperson for the Port.