World, Americas

Train blockades continue to spring up all over Canada

Protesters face speeding train, leaping to safety at last moment

Barry Ellsworth   | 27.02.2020
Train blockades continue to spring up all over Canada

TRENTON, Canada 

Protesters continued to erect rail blockades across Canada on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that actions by members of the Mohawk nation at the blockade east of Toronto are “extremely concerning.”

The protesters, who were removed from the train tracks Monday, stood on the rails facing a speeding train, leaping to safety at the last moment. Video footage of the daredevil incident was posted on Facebook.

Protesters also set tires on fire on the tracks and police could be seen moving debris.

“It is extremely concerning to see people endangering their own lives and the lives of others by trying to interfere with the trains, Trudeau said.

Police efforts to move in to remove protesters in Tyendinaga on Monday and open tracks for trains have backfired and spawned other blockades across the country.

In Toronto, police made arrests at passenger train tracks early Wednesday.

The blockades, which have been going on for three weeks, are to show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a CAN$6 billion natural gas pipeline running through their territory in northern British Columbia.

Twenty bands have approved the project, including elected chiefs. The five hereditary chiefs did not sign off.

The hereditary chiefs said they will not end their demonstrations or discuss ending blockades in other areas until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) leave their territory and Coastal GasLink, the company behind the pipeline, stops construction.

The RCMP moved in weeks ago to remove protesters at the British Columbia site and they continue to patrol the area.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the RCMP cannot vacate the area because residents have a right to police services.

Meanwhile, the Trudeau government has said the blockades are hurting the Canadian economy and must end. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said police will enforce court injunctions issued against the blockades and remove protesters.

While demonstrations have so far been peaceful, the Mohawks of Khanawake near Montreal said in a press release that could change.

“It has become very obvious that use of injunctions and police against Indigenous people who are simply defending their own land from unwanted development will not produce a peaceful resolve,” they said.

The government said Wednesday that officials still hope to meet the hereditary chiefs to discuss ending the blockades.


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