Tag Archives: CN Rail

CN, CP trains sharing rail lines to keep supplying Canada during blockades

Two CN locomotives sit idle on the tracks near Napanee Ont. (Largs Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Federal government kept the ‘rare’ arrangement under wraps, fearing the blockades would spread

Quiet talks brokered by a government desperate to stop a growing economic threat led to two rail rivals coming together with a workaround to bypass the Tyendinaga blockade site.

Since last week, Canada’s two largest railways — CN and Canadian Pacific — have been quietly sharing their rail lines to transport essential supplies to communities in need, according to multiple government, CN and industry sources.

Protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga crippled passenger and freight train traffic on CN’s line near Belleville for more than two weeks in solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in northern B.C against the construction of the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline. Ontario Provincial Police officers on Monday arrested 10 demonstrators to get service back up and running on the line.

But as a result of what multiple government sources are describing as a very “rare” collaboration between the two rail giants, CN trains have been circumventing blockades using alternate routes — some through the U.S. — to continue deliveries to Quebec and Maritime communities facing shortages of essential goods such as propane, chemicals for water treatment facilities and animal feed.

Transport Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office approached the two companies and helped to negotiate the rail-sharing deal — which is still active in parts of the country dealing with blockades.

Garneau said today the collaboration will not take care of the freight backlog completely, but it will help.

“It does give us some extra wiggle room,” he said in French outside today’s cabinet meeting. “But eventually we want all the barricades to come down.”

A Canadian Pacific Railway employee walks along the side of a locomotive in a marshalling yard in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The deal was kept under wraps by all involved; even the industries affected weren’t told about the arrangement. The Retail Council of Canada told CBC News it didn’t know about the deal. Neither did associations representing propane suppliers in Quebec and across Canada. The groups had been warning of looming supply shortages in Quebec and Eastern Canada, where families, farmers and companies have been rationing goods. Many households use propane to heat their homes and barns.

Government sources say they didn’t advertise the deal, fearing that more blockades could pop up in response.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the CN/CP arrangement yesterday on the way into question period in the House of Commons.

“Over the past number of days we’ve been working with rail carriers to ensure that many trains continue to use alternate routes to get through and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to avoid some of the most serious shortages,” said Trudeau.

Karl Littler, senior vice president, public affairs, of the Retail Council of Canada, learned about the arrangement from CBC News and commended it.

“We’re talking about foods, we’re talking about fuel to keep people heating in what can be a cold winter,” said Littler. “You’re talking about a lot of stuff that Canadians need everyday. I think it’s the responsible thing to look to see what alternative channels exist and if that means collaboration in these circumstances, so much the better.”

One CN conductor said they witnessed how covert the operation has been. The source said they saw specially trained CN workers use CP engines, with that company’s logo on them, to haul unmarked CN cargo.

CP told CBC News it didn’t have a comment to add. CN also isn’t commenting on the deal, saying only that it’s “pleased the illegal blockade in Tyendinaga has come to an end.”

“We are also monitoring our network for any further disruptions at this time,” said CN spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis in a statement.

By: Ashley Burke · CBC News · Posted: Feb 25, 2020

[SOURCE]

A timeline on rail disruptions by anti-pipeline protesters across Canada

Indigenous land defenders set up a blockade in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en along the CN rail and VIA rail line west of Winnipeg, on February 12, 2020. (Photo: Red Power Media)

RCMP began enforcing an injunction last week that prevents interference with construction of a $6.6-billion natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.

Here is a timeline of rail disruptions by people showing solidarity with hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink project:

Feb. 6 — Protesters in Belleville, Ont., east of Toronto, start stopping railway traffic.

Feb. 7 — Via Rail halts service along one of its busiest routes because of the Belleville blockade. All travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal is cancelled. Canadian National Railway obtains a court injunction to end a demonstration by members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville. Protesters also begin disruptions at ports in Vancouver and Delta, B.C.

Feb. 8 — Protesters in Toronto disrupt Canadian Pacific Railway traffic moving through the downtown.

Feb. 9 — Kahnawake Mohawk community members south of Montreal erect a blockade on a CP rail line.

Feb. 10 — Demonstrators in the Montreal area disrupt commuter train service on the Exo Candiac line. A shuttle bus service is in effect for affected rail stations.

Feb. 11 — CN stops transport between Prince George, B.C., and Prince Rupert, B.C., because of a blockade near Hazelton, B.C. The company says it has halted more than 150 freight trains since blockades started on Feb. 6.

Feb. 12 — The Manitoba government says it may seek a court injunction to end a blockade on a rail line west of Winnipeg, but CN obtains its own court order. The RCMP also formally end enforcement operations in a region of northern B.C. that’s at the centre of the pipeline dispute. Two hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs start a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls for demonstrators across the country to observe the rule of law.

Feb. 13 — CN shuts down its operations in Eastern Canada. The railway says blockades have ended in Manitoba and may come down soon in British Columbia, but the orders of a court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored.

The Canadian Press, published Feb. 13, 2020

[SOURCE]

CN shuts down eastern rail network, Via service due to anti-pipeline blockades

A train sits parked on the tracks after land defenders blocked the CN and Via rail line near Headingley, Manitoba on Wednesday, in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s fight against a Coastal Gaslink pipeline in their territory. (Photo: Harrison Powder/ Facebook)

Blockades set up by anti-pipeline protesters have forced Canadian National Railway Co. to shut down its entire network in Eastern Canada and Via Rail to cancel passenger service across the country.

CN said Thursday that the company must initiate a “disciplined and progressive” shutdown in the East and stop and safely secure all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network.

Via Rail said it has no other option but to cancel all its service on CN track in Canada. There were no more departures as of 4 p.m. eastern and all trains en route were brought to the closest major train station.

“We understand the impact this unfortunate situation has on our passengers and regret the significant inconvenience this is causing to their travel plans,” Via said in a news release.

CN said its shutdown may imminently lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff.

The company said it has sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.

It said while the blockades have been dismantled in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in B.C., the court order in Ontario has yet to be enforced and continues to be ignored.

Protesters across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would cross the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C.

CN said it has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers, but it is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down eastern Canadian operations.

“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protesters,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer, in a news release.

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.”

He said while Via service will be discontinued across CN’s network, commuter rail services such as Metrolinx and Exo can keep operating as long as they do so safely.

The federal and B.C. governments are setting up meetings with Indigenous leaders in an effort to halt the rail blockades that have choked Canada’s economy.

Premier John Horgan said in a letter that Gitxsan Chief Norman Stephens proposed a meeting of Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C.

Horgan said he understood that if his government and the Canadian government agreed to a meeting, then the blockade would be removed to allow for a period of peaceful calm and dialogue.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser is set to attend on behalf of the B.C. government while Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett will represent the federal government.

Marc Miller, the federal Indigenous services minister, also sent a letter to three Indigenous leaders in Ontario on Thursday suggesting a meeting to discuss a blockade near Belleville, Ont.

“My request, that I ask you kindly to consider, is to discontinue the protest and barricade of the train tracks as soon as practicable. As you well know, this is a highly volatile situation and the safety of all involved is of the utmost importance to me,” Miller said in the email posted publicly on Thursday.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Chief Donald Maracle, one of the three recipients, said he expects the meeting will proceed but he can’t comment on Miller’s request to end the blockade because it wasn’t initiated by his council.

“We’re happy that he’s agreed to come,” Maracle said.

In Manitoba, protesters dismantled a blockade on an east-west Canadian National Railway line due to a court injunction but insisted that there would be more action to come.

Protesters in B.C. continued to demonstrate against the provincial government on Thursday, days after hundreds of people blocked the entrances to the B.C. legislature and chanted “Shame.”

Dozens of people occupied the office of Attorney General David Eby, demanding that RCMP and Coastal GasLink withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory.

The head of the province’s civil service also sent an email to employees warning that another protest may occur on Friday.

Don Wright wrote that staff may have heard protesters are planning to “shut down” as many ministries as possible.

“Please ensure that your safety and that of your colleagues is your first priority,” he said. “We will not ask public servants to put themselves into any situation where they do not feel safe.”

By: The Canadian Press, February, 13, 2020.

[SOURCE]

Ottawa ‘very concerned’ about blockades as CN Rail says it will close ‘significant’ parts of its network

Canadian National Railway Co. says it will have to temporarily shutter much of its national network because of protests affecting its rail lines. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Anti-pipeline protests crippling transport network will undoubtedly damage economy, minister says

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the federal Liberal government is “very concerned” about growing anti-pipeline protests that are crippling parts of the country’s transport network, including one of the main rail arteries in southern Ontario.

J.J. Ruest, the president and CEO of CN Rail, said in a statement Tuesday the railway has no choice but to temporarily shutter “significant” parts of its network because blockades by Indigenous protesters near Belleville, Ont., and New Hazelton, B.C., have made train movements in the rest of the country all but impossible.

“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,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the protests threaten industry across the country, including the transport of food and consumer items, grain, de-icing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and natural resources like lumber, aluminum and coal.

“These blockades will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the impact of the blockades are “being felt beyond Canada’s borders and is harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.”

The Tyendinaga Mohawk action in southern Ontario has halted freight and passenger rail traffic since Thursday, snarling winter travel plans and the movement of Canadian exports. The Mohawks involved say they are standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

Tyendinaga Mohawk members said Tuesday they won’t end their demonstration until the RCMP leaves the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en, where there have been numerous arrests of protesters who have been blocking an access road to the natural gas pipeline construction site.

Members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory bring their protest to the CN/Via Rail tracks near Belleville, Ont., for a sixth day on Tuesday, in support of the Wet’suwet’en, who are fighting construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories in northern B.C. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Via Rail has had to cancel 157 scheduled trips on the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor as of 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, leaving 24,500 passengers in the lurch.

The New Hazelton blockade has stopped traffic in and out of the Ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat in B.C., among the country’s largest, halting waterfront operations.

First Nations workers affected, says shipping terminal CEO

Shaun Stevenson, the CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, said the shipping terminal has nothing to do with the Coastal GasLink project and yet its operations, and the thousands of First Nations people who work there, have become collateral damage to the protests.

“We have in excess of 6,000 people that rely on the Port of Prince Rupert, its operations and its modes and nodes of transportation, for their livelihood in northern B.C.,” he said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Daybreak North. “The economic vitality of northern B.C. depends on the port.”

He said as many as 3,600 jobs — 40 per cent of the workforce is Indigenous — depend on a fully operational port.

“They’re involved in every aspect of the port operations; they’re entrenched in every facet,” Stevenson said of Indigenous peoples. “They have ownership stakes in terminals here. First Nations operate the largest trucking company with the port … we’re hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached,” Stevenson said.

Ruest said CN has obtained court injunctions that allow the police to remove the protesters in Ontario and B.C. so that rail traffic can resume.

Garneau said the continuing disruptions will undoubtedly damage the economy as CN moves tens of billions of dollars worth of goods over those tracks each year.

“The government of Canada is seized of the issue. We’d like to resolve it as quickly as possible, but it’s a complex issue. Hopefully we’ll resolve it as quickly as possible,” Garneau said.

Beyond the economic hit, Garneau said the protests are a risk to public safety.

“It is illegal. It infringes on the railway safety act. It’s dangerous to block the rails so we’re very concerned about it from that point of view,” Garneau said.

While concerned, Garneau said it is not for Ottawa to enforce court injunctions giving police the power to clear away Indigenous protesters. He said it is for provincial authorities to enact the removal orders — not Ottawa.

The Wetʼsuwetʼen hereditary chiefs maintain they have sole authority over 22,000 square kilometres of the nation’s traditional territory, and did not give consent to the Coastal GasLink proponent, TC Energy, to build in the area.

While opposed by the hereditary chiefs, all 20 First Nations impacted by construction of the natural gas project have signed impact benefit agreements with TC Energy. The elected Indian Act band council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation has also given the go-ahead to TC to build the project, which will employ hundreds of local Indigenous people.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a key component of a $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal at Kitimat, B.C., under development to ship natural gas to international markets. It is on the territory of the Haisla Nation, which supports the project.

Objecting to #ShutDownCanada message

Conservative leadership contender Erin O’Toole said the government isn’t doing enough to support the police as they move to enforce the injunction against the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters camped out on the access road near the Coastal GasLink site.

He said the anti-pipeline protesters there have gone too far in their rhetoric.

“When I see people with a hashtag of ‘Shutdown Canada’ and signs calling the RCMP apartheid — there is a total disconnect with some people who feel that they can take protests to a stage of actually stopping people from working, stopping court orders; that’s very disruptive.

“I don’t think the Trudeau government has any plan to deal with it,” O’Toole said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics.

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Feb 11, 2020

[SOURCE]

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy Calls On CN Rail To Back Down

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy Calls on CN Rail to Back Down

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy Calls on CN Rail to Back Down

Net Newsledger

TORONTO – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy is calling on CN Rail to immediately drop injunction laid against Judy DaSilva, a Grassy Narrows First Nation member and a Michael Sattler Peace Prize recipient, and members of the Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum Group for exercising their inherent and Treaty rights. Those issued the injunction appear in a Kenora court tomorrow.

On April 10, the women hosted a traditional Anishinaabe Water Ceremony on the shores of Wild Lake, near the CN Mainline at Mile 106 where it crosses Highway 671 between Kenora and Grassy Narrows, a location where the rail line passes directly by several lakes and river tributaries running along the southern boundary of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) traditional territory and multiple Anishinaabe families’ traplines.

The purpose of the ceremony was to protect the local waterways from increasing threats posed by the constant transportation of tar sands bitumen, natural gas and other explosive and toxic chemicals through First Nations’ territories.

Originally, the Water Ceremony was planned to take place on the tracks. However, on April 8, community members received calls from CN Rail Police and CN Aboriginal and Tribal Relations Management officials promising a heavy-handed response and threatening arrests. In response to these threats and intimidation, a Grassy Narrows Elder asked that the ceremony be moved to a location beside, not on the tracks.

“CN Rail is wrong if they think this is an issue of the courts—instead, it is a matter of First Nations’ ability to exercise their Inherent and Treaty Rights as indicated in the First Nations in Ontario Assertion of Sovereignty – Notice of Assertion and other Indigenous laws First Nations have in place,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “First Nations in Ontario will lose trust and confidence in CN Rail very fast if our pre-existing sovereignty and Indigenous laws are ignored and courts are used as the venue for building our relationship.”

On March 10, Ontario Regional Chief Beardy issued a similar News Release highlighting Canada’s ways of getting oil to market being in direct conflict with Indigenous rights and public safety after three CN rail derailments took place on First Nations’ traditional territories. “What must be understood is that First Nations will not and cannot stop their efforts to uphold their responsibility to protect their ancestral homelands—it is our genetic make-up, core values and principles,” he stated.

Construction of railways and rail lines began in Canada in the 19th century. The building of the Intercolonial Railway was a condition written into the Canada Constitution Act, 1867. At the time, Indigenous people did not give their free, prior and informed consent but they relied on the Treaties which outlined an understanding of the relationship of equality and non-interference, amongst other agreements.

“Canada and CN Rail cannot any longer get around the fact that rail lines are on Treaty lands,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Beardy. Currently, no provisions are in place to notify or consult First Nation communities about the transportation of hazardous material like crude oil, spent fuel, and other radioactive material shipped through their traditional territories.

This is in direct contravention of the government’s duty to consult and accommodate First Nations. “Viewing rail lines simply being situated on Crown land, and/or rights of way is simply no longer feasible for First Nations,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Beardy.

The 133 First Nations in Ontario will be gathering in Assembly from June 16 – 18 in the Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation in Treaty #3 at which time major infrastructure on Indigenous lands such as pipelines and railways will be deliberated.

In the meantime, Ontario Regional Chief Beardy is calling on CN Rail to not only drop the injunction against Judy DaSilva and other individuals at the Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum Group Water Ceremony, but strongly urge CN and Canada, seriously consider a new approach to dealing with First Nations as their business and corporate responsibility agenda moving forward.