MONTREAL, QUÉBEC, CANADA — Safety is the main priority for the Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) as illegal blockades across its network continues.
On Feb. 16, CN sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies to end new illegal blockades in Vancouver, British Columbia, and two in Vaughan, Ontario, impacting its network. Both of the illegal blockades in Vaughan have ended and the other one in Vancouver is expected to end shortly. CN has deep concerns regarding the safety of its employees, the public, and the protestors.
“In Vaughan, protesters put their personal safety at risk by climbing on and between railcars,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN. “The protesters trespassed on active railway tracks and on active trains to hang their banners and take photos of themselves. Trespassing on railway property and tampering with railway equipment is not only illegal, but also exceedingly dangerous. A train can arrive or a railcar can move at any time. A serious and even fatal incident could be the outcome. Safety is a core value at CN and every time a breach like this occurs, we send railway experts to inspect the track and equipment for the safety of our employees and the public, which further slows the movement of goods.”
CN’s rail network is being compromised by blockades due to a protest unrelated to the company. 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.
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.
The illegal blockade of CN tracks at Tyendiaga, Ontario, continues into its 9th day. To this day, the orders of the court have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored by protesters. The shutdown of CN’s Eastern Canadian network will continue until the illegal blockades end, affecting both freight and passenger trains.
“Unfortunately, service to VIA Rail and Amtrak has been discontinued across Canada,” Ruest said. “It is unsafe to allow passenger trains to start trips across our network when we have no control over where, when, or how an illegal blockade may occur. It would be irresponsible to allow the travelling public to be trapped in a blockade.”
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.