MONTREAL, QUÉBEC, CANADA — The Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) has been forced to shut down operations in Eastern Canada.
CN’s rail network is being compromised by blockades. On Feb. 3, the Wet’suwet’en Heredity Chiefs filed an application for a judicial review of the BC Environmental Assessment Office decision to extend the environmental certificate for Coastal Gas Link’s proposed fracked gas pipeline in Northwest British Columbia for another five years.
According to CTV News, the blockades are in support of Wet’suwet’en Heredity Chiefs challenging the construction of a 670-kilometer natural gas pipeline through British Columbia.
“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 protestors,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN.
CN cited a public statement from the individuals blocking the lines stating that their actions are in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and are unrelated to CN’s activities.
CN’s shutdown includes stopping and safely securing all trans-continental trains across its Canadian network and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs within the company’s Eastern Canadian operational staff.
CN sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the illegal blockades in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored.
CN said it has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers in the face of these challenges, it is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down its Eastern Canadian operations until the illegal blockades end.
“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,” Ruest said. “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. Unfortunately, intercity Via Rail service will be discontinued across our Canadian network. However, commuter rail services, such as Metrolinx and Exo, can keep operating so long as they can do so safely. I would like to thank our customers, international supply-chain partners, and industry associations for their support to get this unprecedented ordeal resolved.”
CN transports more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route miles spanning Canada and mid-America.