Passenger trains to run again, pipeline protests block freight

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller meets with representatives of the Mohawk Nation at the site of a rail stoppage at Tyendinaga, Ont., east of Belleville, on Feb. 15, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Osorio)

Ottawa | Reuters — Passenger rail operator Via Rail said Tuesday it would soon resume partial services between Quebec City and Ottawa while the government sought to end anti-pipeline protests that are blocking rail freight in Eastern Canada.

Via said passenger services between the two cities would start on Thursday after it received a notification from Canadian National Railway (CN), the country’s biggest railroad.

Protests opposing the construction of a gas pipeline project in British Columbia have disrupted passenger trains and goods transportation in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address legislators later on Tuesday about the disruption caused by the blockades, his office said.

Earlier in the day he met a group of cabinet ministers which is addressing the crisis.

“We would obviously like to find a way to move forward in a peaceful manner,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said before the meeting.

Meanwhile, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted support for the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people of British Columbia and their campaign against the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink project.

The demonstrations spread as environmentalists joined the campaign, arguing that Canada — a major energy exporter — should do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Perry Bellegarde, head of the Assembly of First Nations umbrella group, called for calm and constructive dialogue.

“The Wet’suwet’en peoples have asked that they be given space for their own internal dialogue … they have told me they want to create their own approach to formalize discussion with federal and provincial governments,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.

Police in British Columbia have mounted a series of operations to clear the protests, angering aboriginal groups who complain the country’s indigenous population is marginalized. Some bands insist they can veto on projects on their land, a stance rejected by Canadian courts.

— Reporting for Reuters by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Rachit Vats in Bangalore.

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