Transport Minister Garneau ‘deeply concerned’ as pipeline protest blocks rails
The Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, says he’s “deeply concerned” about the continued First Nation protests that have shut down CN railways in the eastern part of the country.
“I am deeply concerned about protests that deliberately prevent the operation of railways through illegal activities,” Garneau said.
This follows a VIA Rail announcement on Thursday of a Canada-wide shutdown of passenger train services due to the ongoing protests on CN Rail’s tracks in Ontario by the Mohawk First Nation.
During a conference on Friday, the transport minister placed the focus on the jobs and people that will be affected by trains being halted.
“It is about people’s jobs and livelihoods and about the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil, and chemicals for water treatment, agricultural products for export and so many other products,” he said.
“Freedom of expression and peaceful protest are among the most fundamental and cherished of all rights in a democracy such as Canada,” he said.
But he warned of the risk that protests can bring.
“There is a risk of seeing this solely as being about a negative impact on the profitability of large companies, but it is about people’s jobs and livelihoods and about the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil, and chemicals for water treatment, agricultural products for export and so many other products.”
“The impact of this disruption affects each and every Canadian.”
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer denounced the protests and urged law enforcement officials to act.
“We cannot allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs,” said Scheer.
“These blockades are illegal,” Scheer said.
Garneau said he’s planning to meet with his provincial counterparts later on Friday, in the hopes of negotiating an end to the protests and restore train service.