New train blockade piles pressure on Trudeau in Wet’suwet’en pipeline fight
Group of about 20 blocked Canadian National Railway Co rail line near Edmonton, capital of the western province of Alberta
Demonstrators opposed to a Canadian gas pipelinehave blockaded another railway line in the west of the country, adding to pressure on Justin Trudeau to solve a two-week protest.
Freight traffic in eastern Canada has already been stopped for days after campaigners blockaded a main line in Ontario. Protesters across the country have taken up the cause of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people who are seeking to stop the C$6.6bn (US$4.98bn) Coastal GasLink gas pipeline project in British Columbia.
On Wednesday, a group of about 20 people blocked a Canadian National Railway Co rail line near Edmonton, the capital of the western province of Alberta.
“They’re on the CN property, and we’re working with the CN police to resolve it,” a local police spokesman, Barry Maron, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Television footage showed the group standing on the rails behind a banner that read “No pipelines on stolen land.” The company said it was assessing legal options.
— Cuzzins for Wet'suwet'en (@C4Wetsuweten) February 19, 2020
Trudeau, who insists his government will not use force against the protesters, toughened his language on Wednesday, calling the disruptions unacceptable.
The blockades pose a delicate challenge for Trudeau, who says one of his main priorities is to improve relations with Canada’s marginalized and impoverished indigenous population.
“This government is working extremely hard to resolve this situation. We know people are facing shortages, they’re facing disruptions, they’re facing layoffs – that’s unacceptable,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
His tone was noticeably harsher than in a speech he gave to legislators on Tuesday in which he stressed the importance of “dialogue and mutual respect”.
Canada’s main opposition parties say the federal government should send in police to clear the blockades, which are also hitting Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province.
Quebec’s premier, François Legault, on Wednesday demanded Trudeau come up with a timetable to end the blockades.