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The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators

Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia (All times Eastern): 7:40 p.m. The West Coast Express commuter rail service in Metro Vancouver has been suspended.

Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia (All times Eastern):

7:40 p.m.

The West Coast Express commuter rail service in Metro Vancouver has been suspended.

Translink says the service has been stopped because protesters are blocking its tracks.

The West Coast Express travels between downtown Vancouver and Mission.


6:45 p.m. ET

A group of protesters has locked themselves to a gate at the B.C. legislature in Victoria.

Hundreds of protesters are on the grounds of the legislature, which was the scene of widespread protests on Feb. 11 that prompted the province to obtain an injunction when entrances to the building were blocked.

The protesters chanted "Stand up, fight back" as members of the Victoria Police Department monitored what was happening and spoke to members of the group.


5:45 p.m. ET

Members of the Gitxsan First Nation are once again blockading a rail line outside of New Hazelton, B.C.

The blockade was temporarily taken down Feb. 13 pending a meeting between the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and federal government that has yet to materialize.

The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have said they want the RCMP and Coastal GasLink out of their traditional territory before talks begin, but Wet'suwet'en Chief Na'moks says the Mounties have continued foot patrols and pipeline workers are also still there.

Gitxsan Chief Spookwx, who also goes by Norm Stephens, accused the RCMP of "dragging their feet" and says there are 30 to 40 people at the blockade who are willing to stay until the Mounties leave.


5:40 p.m. ET

Via Rail says its route between Montreal and Halifax will resume service on Friday.

Via says it is working with CN Rail to make sure its normal service can resume on all other routes that have been affected by disruptions.

But it says trains are running on its Ontario routes between Toronto, London and Windsor; Toronto and Sarnia; Toronto and Niagara Falls, as well as between Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa.


5:30 p.m. ET

Protesters have blocked a road leading to the port of Vancouver.

The port obtained a court injunction earlier this month to end a blockade.

At the time, Vancouver police said 43 people were arrested after they refused to abide by the court order and allow access to the port when requested to do so by its officers.


5 p.m. ET

A spokesman for hereditary house chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation says those who visited Mohawk supporters in Ontario have returned to British Columbia.

Na'moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, says he spoke briefly with some of the other chiefs who returned from visiting Mohawk supporters in Ontario today.

They told him the visit went well and their voices were heard in a peaceful manner.

Na'moks also says that while he previously believed the RCMP was removing its mobile detachment from the territory, he now believes it's simply been shut down because there is a new gate blocking a turnoff towards it.  

The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have called for the removal of the RCMP mobile unit, the end of foot patrols and the removal of Coastal GasLink workers from the territory as conditions for meeting with the federal government.

Na'moks says the chiefs want to discuss "moving forward together," once the conditions are met.


4 p.m. ET

Ontario Provincial Police say they arrested 10 people as part of their operation to dismantle a rail blockade in eastern Ontario.

Police say officers gave those at the scene of the protest in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory the option of leaving voluntarily or being taken into custody.

Spokesman Bill Dickson says each person is facing multiple charges, though further details were not immediately available.

He says all ten people have been released with conditions.


3:30 p.m. ET

Ontario Provincial Police have largely dismantled a blockade site just outside Belleville, Ont., where several protesters were arrested earlier today.

Officers took down a few remaining signs and hauled away tires from near the train tracks, although a few tents are still in place.

CN crews have also been testing the railway barriers at the crossing as police clear the site.


2:05 p.m. ET

The CEO of a Vancouver-based company that was considering a massive oilsands project in Alberta says plans have been shelved due to tensions over Indigenous rights, climate change and resource development that have escalated recently due to rail blockades.

Teck Resources Ltd. CEO Don Lindsay spoke today at a mining conference in Florida about Teck's suspension of the Frontier project, saying over the past few days, "it has become increasingly clear that there is no constructive path forward."

He says the Frontier development has "landed squarely at the nexus of a much broader national discussion on energy development, Indigenous reconciliation, and of course climate change."

Lindsay says the company is "stepping back" so Canadians can discuss these issues without a looming regulatory deadline for just one project.


1:59 p.m. ET

A hereditary chief with the Wet'suwet'en Nation says people who are being arrested on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., should know "they're doing the right thing for the right reasons."

Na'moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, says the same thing happened to Wet'suwet'en members who oppose a natural gas pipeline on their territory and he says "we're still here."

Na'moks says a group of about nine hereditary chiefs plan to meet today to discuss next steps but adds only one of three conditions that they set for talks with the federal government has been met.

The RCMP has removed a mobile detachment from the area where an injunction was enforced this month but Na'moks says officers continue to patrol the area, and Coastal GasLink has not committed to remove its workers from the traditional territory.

Na'moks says there has been no contact from federal cabinet ministers, provincial leaders or senior RCMP since Friday.


1:30 p.m. ET

Two industrial-sized tow trucks have hauled a snow plow from the protest site on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., as provincial police slowly move to dismantle the weeks-old blockade.

The tow trucks were brought in hours after police arrested a number of protesters at the site.

Many officers are still at the scene and appear to be speaking to the remaining protesters.

Meanwhile, CN Rail crews have been inspecting and working on the train tracks since mid-morning.


12:47 p.m. ET

Mohawks in Kanesatake, northwest of Montreal, have blocked the highway running through the community.

Quebec's Transport Department said in a tweet that Highway 344, which connects Kanesatake and neighbouring Oka, is closed in both directions.

The roadblock follows an earlier action in Kahnawake, south of Montreal, where Mohawks unhappy with Monday's police intervention in Ontario staged a rolling blockade that briefly disrupted traffic heading to a major bridge.


12:30 p.m. ET

The Secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake says his members are upset at the arrests of protesters and the dismantling of a rail blockade on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont.

Kenneth Deer says the Ontario Provincial Police "acted irrationally" when it moved in this morning to enforce an injunction prohibiting the blockade.

Deer says the OPP knew discussions were underway today with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs regarding the removal of the RCMP from their traditional territories in northwestern B.C., and the Tyendinaga blockade would have been lifted as soon as the chiefs were satisfied with the police response.

Deer says the Mohawk blockade will stay until Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs give the word and if police had waited another 12 hours, it's likely there would have been a peaceful resolution to the barricade that has been in place since early this month.


12:01 p.m. ET

About 200 protesters have been marching through Ottawa in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary leaders.

The protest has snaked through downtown, escorted by a large group of police.

Demonstrators have warned that traffic could be disrupted all day.

Participants danced and chanted slogans like "U-G-L-Y, CGL, you cheat and lie."

That's a reference to Coastal GasLink, the company building a natural gas pipeline across northwestern B.C., that has been opposed by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. 


11:23 a.m. ET

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he scolded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over weak leadership in a phone call today.

In a statement, Scheer says he linked protests over the B.C. natural-gas pipeline and Teck Resources' decision to suspend plans for a major new oilsands mine.

He says "political unrest" has cost Canada a $70-billion energy project.

The Conservative leader says blockades over the pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory are a "dress rehearsal" for opposition to other projects and risk shutting the Canadian economy down completely.


11:16 a.m. ET

Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau agrees with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that barricades blocking railways and other transportation links in Canada must end.

Speaking as he headed into a meeting of the prime minister's incident-response group of cabinet ministers and senior officials this morning, Garneau says the government is committed to reconciliation and further dialogue to resolve a dispute with hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in British Columbia.

But Garneau says barricades set up in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs are having a profound effect on the economy.

He says they must come down.


10:53 a.m. ET

Protesters at a blockade that has halted rail traffic through the Mohawk community in Kahnawake held another demonstration this morning on a highway near a major bridge to the island of Montreal.

Protesters drove slow along Highway 132, stopping at one point and getting out of their vehicles briefly before moving on.

They were accompanied by Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers, who police the area and were keeping tabs on the situation.

The blockade on the track, owned by Canadian Pacific Railways, has disrupted freight and commuter rail service along the route since Feb. 8.


10:21 a.m. ET

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the impact of rail blockades has been so great that they just can't be allowed to stay up.

Blair spoke as a meeting of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's incident-response group of cabinet ministers and senior officials broke up on Parliament Hill this morning.

The meeting was held as the Ontario Provincial Police moved in to arrest several people who refused to leave a blockade across tracks through Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont. 

Blair says he and the rest of the federal government are as committed as ever to reconciliation and he hopes meetings with Indigenous leaders can move that work forward.


9:35 a.m. ET

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is convening his cabinet's incident-response group as police dismantle a rail blockade between Toronto and Montreal.

Confirmation of the meeting came barely an hour after police began to make arrests at the rail crossing that has been blocked for weeks through the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont.

Trudeau said Friday that the situation was "unacceptable and untenable" as blockades crippled freight and passenger rail travel in many parts of the country as protesters showed solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline through their territories in northwestern British Columbia.


9:15 a.m. ET

Several arrests have been made as Ontario Provincial Police enforce an injunction that prohibits a blockade on a rail line through Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont.

The OPP arrested several men shortly after arriving at the scene and more arrests were made about 45 minutes later.

The police force says its liaison team has tried to negotiate peacefully over the past few weeks, but decided to take action to uphold a court injunction to clear the railway.

The statement from spokesman Bill Dickson says officers have "remained respectful of the ongoing dialogue, including issues of sovereignty" and "have hoped for productive communication leading to a peaceful resolution." 


8:53 a.m. ET

Police are beginning to take action to enforce an injunction aimed at clearing a rail blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont.

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police began moving to clear protesters who have shut down the key crossing for nearly three weeks, halting freight and passenger rail traffic across most of eastern Canada for nearly three weeks.

Police had warned demonstrators they had until midnight Sunday to clear the tracks or face arrest and possible criminal charges.

The barricades were set up in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia.


1 a.m. ET

Demonstrators who briefly blocked a Canadian National rail crossing in east Vancouver on Sunday moved on after police informed them of an injunction.

A rally on the tracks began at around noon Sunday but ended within hours.

Participants said they were acting in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs fighting a natural gas pipeline across their land and RCMP actions to set up an exclusion zone around the pipeline work, preventing the chiefs from accessing their traditional territory.

A statement issued by the organizers said demonstrators were also protesting other injunctions they call "overbroad" that have halted solidarity actions in support of the Wet'suwet'en.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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