Tag Archives: Rail Blockades

Warren Buffett’s exit from $9-billion Quebec LNG project after rail blockades ‘a signal’ to investors

‘We’re not going to find $4 billion tomorrow morning, and we sure aren’t going to find it in the region,’ says Saguenay deputy mayor

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most influential investors, has pulled out of a proposed $9 billion liquefied natural gas project in Quebec over concerns about railway blockades and infrastructure challenges.

The domestic oil and gas sector was already reeling after Teck Resources cancelled its $20.6 billion Frontier oilsands project in Alberta last month, partly over fears about rail blockades, and as other strategic investors have avoided the industry.

“Over the last month, a clear signal has been sent to businesses across Canada that the rule of law will not be upheld and that major projects cannot get built,” Conservative MP for Chicoutimi-Le Fjord Richard Martel said in an email, adding that Quebecers “risk losing out” on a multi-billion project.

GNL Quebec confirmed Thursday it had lost a major potential investor as it seeks to build the $9 billion Énergie Saguenay project to export Western Canadian natural gas from a proposed facility in Quebec.

“This was a major private investor who left at the last minute,” GNL Quebec spokesperson Stephanie Fortin said in an interview.

“The reason is the recent challenge in the Canadian political context.”

She declined to provide the name of the investor or confirm the identity, but Montreal-based La Presse cited unnamed sources when it reported Thursday the investor was Omaha, Neb.-based conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is controlled by Buffett.

The identity was confirmed by Saguenay deputy mayor Michel Potvin to the Montreal Gazette.

Potvin, who heads the local investment agency known as Promotion Saguenay, said Berkshire would have invested about $4 billion.

“We did not need this, especially at this stage of the project,” Potvin said. “We’re not going to find $4 billion tomorrow morning, and we sure aren’t going to find it in the region. So we have to roll up our sleeves.”

In recent weeks, rail blockades and protests have also snarled major infrastructure in Canada, disrupting port shipments and stalling the delivery of grains and other commodities across the country.

“Add it to the list,” Raymond James analyst Jeremy McCrea said of Berkshire Hathaway’s decision to pull out of the LNG project in Quebec.

Major resource companies such as ConocoPhillips Co., Total SA and Devon Energy Corp. have sold billions of dollars in assets in Canada in recent years as an exodus of investors have caused activity in the energy sector to plummet.

“Reported news of a large investor pulling out of a major LNG project echoes what we have been independently hearing from other investors,” Alberta Associate Minister of Natural Gas Dale Nally said in an email to the Financial Post. “It’s undeniable that weeks of railways and ports being blockaded would deter international investors from doing business in Canada.”

Quebec Premier François Legault has frequently called for action to end the rail blockades in recent weeks as they hurt his province and much of Eastern Canada. His office declined a request for comment Thursday about how the blockades affected investment in the LNG project proposed for Saguenay.

Berkshire Hathaway did not respond to a request for comment.

Financial analysts, investors and energy executives say losing funding from Buffett is a major blow to the industry, which has already seen other investors quit, because other fund managers take cues from the so-called Oracle of Omaha’s investment strategy.

Buffett is the fourth-richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of US$81.2 billion and he built Berkshire Hathaway into a $508-billion conglomerate over the past few decades.

Berkshire Hathaway continues to own shares in Calgary-based oilsands producer Suncor Energy as well as U.S. energy companies Occidental Petroleum and Phillips66.

But the company’s decision not to invest in Énergie Saguenay “sends a signal that all governments and particularly the federal government should pay attention to,” said Tristan Goodman, president of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, which represents mid-sized oil and gas companies.

“We have to have foreign investment,” Goodman said. “We do need to ensure that major infrastructure projects can be built across the country.”

In addition, Berkshire Hathaway’s reported decision not to invest in a Canadian infrastructure project – even when other firms like Teck have pulled out of major projects – is particularly troubling because the company has a history of spending money when other investors are fearful.

“He’s a contrarian, which makes it even more of a message,” said Martin Pelletier, chief investment officer with TriVest Wealth Counsel Ltd. in Calgary.

GNL Quebec’s Fortin said the company is looking for additional investors for the project, which is expected to create 6,000 direct and indirect jobs across in Quebec during construction.

“I cannot say where our new investor will come from,” Fortin said, noting that publicly losing a strategic institutional investor “will make it harder” to find more investors.

She said the company still has 15 other unnamed investors in the project but will continue looking for more investors.

Still, she said, the company’s timeline for Énergie Saguenay has not been compromised. GNL Quebec is planning to make a final investment decision on the project at the end of 2021.

By Geoffrey Morgan, the Financial Post, March 5, 2020.

[SOURCE]

Photo credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Blockades and bonfires — Warriors stand with Wet’suwet’en chiefs

Before Trudeau called for an end to national protests, Winnipeg’s Urban Warrior Alliance blockaded Highway 75 in support of community engaged in years-long dispute

Pipeline actions ramp up

Several people were arrested Monday when Ontario Provincial Police broke up a railway blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in the latest escalation of a conflict that began more than a year ago in British Columbia.

Since January 2019, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and community members have been resisting the construction of a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is part of a $6.6 billion project to bring natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the coast and has been approved by the provincial and federal governments. Five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils are also in support.

But the hereditary chiefs have consistently opposed the construction and set up blockades to stop work from going forward in the winter of 2019. The project has also been panned by B.C.’s human rights commission and the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination.

A report published by the Guardian late last year said authorities were prepared to use lethal force against the land defenders.

After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) moved to act on an injunction requiring the Wet’suwet’en to stand down earlier this year, solidarity demonstrations and blockades popped up around the country, including the Tyendinaga action that began over two weeks ago. In Manitoba, demonstrators have shut down Portage Avenue several times — including twice in front of the Manitoba RCMP headquarters and a rush hour rally that saw some 400 people shut down the Portage and Main intersection.

A blockade of the CN and Via Rail tracks near Headingly, Man., lasted less than 24 hours before a CN injunction was quickly approved by the courts. On Feb. 17, members of the Urban Warrior Alliance blockaded Highway 75 for several hours. Following Monday’s arrests, another series of solidarity actions sprang up, including blockades of commuter rail lines in Ontario and the second rally outside Manitoba’s Mountie headquarters. 

Manitoban columnist Cam Cannon attended the Feb. 17 highway blockade and filed the following report.

The air is rich with the smoke of a nearby bonfire.

Indigenous warriors and land defenders, clad in camouflage, are holding an emergency meeting in a large black pickup truck parked on the side of Highway 75, where a blockade of both the CN railway and the southbound lanes of the highway has been set up.

All traffic is being allowed through at the moment — everybody around the fire is in disbelief at what just happened.

Moments earlier, as Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) liaison officers dressed in plain clothes visited the blockade — informing the land defenders that the officers were there not only to protect the public, but to protect the land defenders as well — a large tractor trailer pushed through the blockade, swerving through at speed as land defenders scrambled to stop the driver.

The truck sped away, followed shortly after by an RCMP vehicle.

A land defender’s arm was “jarred” during the incident, according to Harrison Powder, a land defender with the Urban Warrior Alliance — one of Winnipeg’s warrior societies, an organization of Indigenous militants.

Land defenders completely stop all traffic in retaliation — including passenger vehicles, which earlier in the day had been allowed through while only commercial trucks were being held up.

They hold the line for about 10 more minutes before holding an emergency meeting away from their allies and the media.

The truck breaking through the blockade was only one of three separate incidents of what Black Turtle, a warrior with the Urban Warrior Alliance, described as “violence” against the land defenders during the day, including an individual who exited his vehicle to confront blockaders.

“That’s never happened before,” she said, comparing the incident to previous demonstrations.

“It’s like the temperament in some of the people has gotten a lot worse than it used to be. The anger level is higher, I guess the stakes are higher.”

“In eight years of protesting — like real heavy protesting as a land defender, doing lots of other kinds of protests, blocking highways, rail lines — this has maybe happened maybe once and today we’ve had three incidents of violence on this highway,” she said.

Overall, the attitude toward the blockade from drivers can be described as tense. People could be heard yelling obscenities from their cars with some regularity, though a few dropped off snacks as they passed through.

The blockade — established as part of a wave of ongoing peaceful protests in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk nations — was established at noon.

The RCMP were on the scene minutes later and maintained a presence for the rest of the day. Within a few hours, a court injunction was served to land defenders by RCMP officers — which they promptly threw to the wind.

“I’m kind of surprised how fast it was, it seems a little not normal,” said Powder, noting it has taken up to eight hours to be served with an injunction at previous protests.

“They’ve been getting these injunctions now in a matter of three, four hours,” he said.

“Once a blockade is going up across Canada — because it happened in Toronto, too — they had a blockade and were served within four, five hours.”

The blockade came down after 5 p.m. Amidst rising tensions over the blockades that have shuttered parts of the Canadian economy, there has been increased pressure from both the police and civilians to take down the blockades.

Although some injunctions had gone unenforced for weeks before this weekend, a blockade just south of Montreal, Que., was dismantled on Feb. 21 upon the arrival of police in riot gear.

At a press conference the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that RCMP were scaling back from Wet’suwet’en and called for all the blockades across the country, now in their third week, to come down and for the rule of law to be upheld.

A few days prior, on Feb. 19, counter-protesters — among them, members of far-right groups and movements including Yellow Vests Canada, United We Roll and Wexit, according to Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, a group that monitors the far right in Canada — dismantled a blockade outside of Edmonton, Alta.

The vigilante action was met with support on Twitter in a now-deleted tweet from Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Peter MacKay.

With rising antagonism from both the Canadian government and from Canadians themselves, Black Turtle — who said she attended the blockade out of love and a want to see reconciliation between the country and the Indigenous populations — questioned how far away that may still be.

“I think that we’re the furthest from reconciliation at this point in time than we’ve been in for a very long time,” she said.

“I think it was starting to come into that direction until this last situation occurred. I’d say that reconciliation is dead at this point.”

“It is completely dead.”

This article was first published in The Manitoban on February 25, 2020. 

[SOURCE]

Police lay charges after arrests at Tyendinaga rail blockade

Ontario Provincial Police officers make an arrest at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., on Monday Feb. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

By Ted Raymond – CTVNewsOttawa.ca

OTTAWA — Ontario Provincial Police have announced the charges laid against ten people who were arrested Monday at the rail blockade in Tyendinaga, Ont.

The rail blockade was set up in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in northern B.C., who oppose a natural gas pipeline project in their territory. Demonstrators in Ontario were demanding the RCMP leave Wet’suwet’en territory.

The arrests came the morning of Feb. 24, about eight hours after a midnight deadline passed calling on demonstrators to end their blockade, which had stymied rail service in the area for 19 days.

Police say they were notified at 8 a.m. ET that the injunction regarding the blockade would be enforced. Police claim they told demonstrators to leave and warned they could be arrested if they did not comply.

Officers and demonstrators scuffled at the blockade briefly before arrests were made. Police say one person was injured and was taken to hospital for treatment. Their injury was described as minor and they have since been released.

All ten people were charged with mischief over $5000 and disobeying a court order, as well as a Railway Safety Act charge of entering land where line work is situated.

Three people are additionally charged with resisting arrest. One person is also facing a charge of obstructing police.

All ten have been released on bail and are due in court in Napanee, Ont. March 24.

Since the arrests, protests have been held across Canada, including in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Ottawa.

In Tyendinaga, protesters set fire to the tracks at one point.

Later, wooden pallets were ignited next to the tracks.

Police in Ontario say their investigation into the protest activity is ongoing.

“The OPP will continue to engage in dialogue, with a reasoned and tempered approach, and proper use of police discretion,” the police service said in a press release.

Charged are:

  •  Aaron Maracle, 36, of Ottawa, Ont.
  •  Corey Jay Jocko, 33, of Akwesasne, Ont.
  •  Tommy Gill, 34, of Odanak, Que.
  •  Harley Moses David, 31, of Akwesasne, Ont.
  •  Trevor Spencer, 45, of Belleville, Ont.
  •  Harry Joseph Benedict, 30, of Akwesasne, Ont.
  •  Nicholas Kolbasook, 25, of Akwesasne, Ont.
  •  Nathan Strongitharm, 34, of no fixed address
  •  Jacob Sharpe, 24, of Tyendinaga Township, Ont.
  •  Stewart Americanhorse, 43, of Ohsweken, Ont.

Kolbasook, Strongitharm, and Sharpe are facing additional charges of resisting arrest. Americanhorse is facing an additional charge of obstructing police.

During testimony at the House of Commons public safety and national security committee, Conservative MP Doug Shipley asked Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, on behalf of a constituent, if the rail blockades constitute an act of terrorism.

Blair said they are not.

With files from The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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]

Arrests made at rail blockade near New Hazelton, tires slashed on RCMP cars

RCMP before the arrests at the rail blockade near New Hazelton, north of Smithers, B.C.. on Monday evening. (Photo: Dinize Ste ohn tsiy (Rob)/Twitter)

Arrests made, tires slashed on patrol cars: RCMP

VANCOUVER — A First Nation leader says he was among several people arrested Monday night at a blockade outside New Hazelton on territory that neighbours the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

Hereditary Chief Spookwx of the Gitxsan Nation said Tuesday three other hereditary chiefs were also taken into custody as the RCMP broke up the demonstration on a CN Rail line in northern British Columbia.

The RCMP said 14 people were arrested.

A similar blockade was set up by the Gitxsan earlier this month and removed as a show of good faith on Feb. 13, but Spookwx said the protest resumed because the RCMP have not acted quickly enough to leave the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory where a natural gas pipeline is under construction.

Elsewhere in B.C., anti-pipeline protests blocked an intersection that serves as a key entry point to the port of Vancouver, and a group of protesters remained at the B.C. legislature.

Vancouver police told the demonstrators to move out of the intersection at the port or risk arrest for violating a court injunction, and most of the estimated 70 protesters had moved to the sidewalk.

Commuter rail service was moving again between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley after demonstrators blocked rail tracks late Monday afternoon, saying they were acting in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Following his arrest on Monday night, Spookwx said supporters blocked Highway 16, the main route through the region, until about 3:30 a.m. when all the people arrested were released.

Spookwx, who also goes by Norm Stephens, said First Nations across Canada must act together as sovereignty issues raised by the construction of the pipeline are addressed because “their rights are ultimately at risk here.”

“The First Peoples of Canada should be treated with respect,” he added.

At least two dozen people blocked the tracks west of New Hazelton, the RCMP said in a statement.

One train reportedly nearly hit a male on the tracks, just before CN Rail was made aware of the blockade, the statement said.

The RCMP enforced the injunction at the request of CN Rail and the Mounties said those arrested were released on the condition that they abide by the injunction order and attend an upcoming court date.

Before midnight, police officers noted the tires were slashed on four patrol cars parked across from the highway, which the RCMP is investigating.

“We would like to remind the public that any attempts to block rail tracks is extremely dangerous and unlawful,” Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said in the news release.

“Should they put themselves in harm’s way, protesters are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are also putting the lives of train operators, rail employees, responding police officers and members of the public at risk.”

The Canadian Press, published Feb. 25, 2020.

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