Mohawk Warriors plan to blockade a busy train line running through Kahnawake reserve.
Montreal will “follow the law” and respect a federal order to suspend the planned dumping of 8 billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River to allow for crucial infrastructure repairs, Mayor Denis Coderre said Wednesday.
However, Coderre warned that the city will reach the “point of no return” as of Oct. 23 — five days after the scheduled dumping was to begin — when there might be breaks in the sewage system that could lead to significantly worse, long-term contamination of the river.
“I think it’s totally irresponsible for the Conservative government of Canada to take the decision the way they have,” Coderre told reporters, alluding to federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel’s announcement earlier in the day to suspend the repairs pending a study by an independent expert.
The mayor denounced the timing of Lebel’s announcement — made five days before Monday’s federal election — as “a political decision that was made on the backs of Montrealers.
Meanwhile, a group of Mohawk Warriors plans to light a bonfire and blockade a busy train line running through the Kahnawake reserve Thursday morning at 9 a.m. to protest against the city. The blockade will continue despite Lebel’s announcement, said Akohserake Deer, a spokesperson for the group, which includes members of the paramilitary Warrior Society.
“In our law, we’re supposed to protect the Earth, and we’re carrying out our responsibilities,” Deer said. “Whether the project is on or off doesn’t matter, it’s just another stalling tactic by the (federal) government.”
The protest, which was not authorized by the Mohawk band council, will take place at Adirondack Junction on a train line run by CP. Deer couldn’t say for how long the line will be blockaded but noted that both passenger and freight trains use it. The Agence métropolitaine de transport’s Candiac train line runs through Kahnawake.
Montreal confirmed late last month its plans to release sewage water over the space of a week starting Oct. 18, to permit repairs to a large collector pipe. The mayor hoped to complete the work by Nov. 15, before any major snowfalls.
At his news conference, Lebel said he was invoking Article 37 of the Fisheries Act — which serves to protect aquatic life — to suspend the sewage discharge.