CN Threatens Railway Shutdown if Blockades Continue

CN Train loaded with lumber stuck on the south side of the tracks.
CN Train

TORONTO – CN in a public statement issued on February 10, 2020 says the company will be forced to shut down significant parts of its Canadian network imminently unless the blockades on its rail lines are removed.

The blockades are in place in Ontario and British Columbia and are a response from supporters of the traditional Wet’suwet’en Chiefs and land protectors in Northeastern British Columbia. Tyendinaga Mohawk people are continuing their blockade of the rail lines in support of the land protectors in British Columbia on We’tsuwet’en traditional territory. The Tyendinga Mohawk say they will continue their action until Royal Canadian Mounted Police leave We’tsuwet’en territory.

CN president and chief executive officer JJ Ruest says, “We have obtained court injunctions for both locations and we are working with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders. We have also engaged with customers, industry associations as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents.”

CN states, “A public statement from the individuals blocking the lines explained that their actions are in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and are unrelated to CN’s activities.”

The railway company says, “The blockades near Belleville, ON, on CN’s only eastern link between Western Canada and Eastern Canada and between Eastern Canada and the US Mid-West and on CN’s northern mainline in B.C. between Prince George and Prince Rupert, are impacting all Canadians’ ability to move goods and enable trade. There are currently no movements of any trains, freight or passenger, at both those locations. Hundreds of trains have been canceled since the blockades began five days ago. The impact is also being felt beyond Canada’s borders and is harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.’

“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains,” said Ruest. “We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end.

“Intermodal containers carrying perishable goods including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, deicing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, natural resources creating rural jobs across Canada such as lumber, aluminum, coal, and propane; all of these commodities are already impacted and will see their movements even more diminished. Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions. The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown. The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” concludes Ruest.

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