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Anti-Pipeline Protests Begin to Take Economic Toll With Rail Shutdowns, Supply Chain Disruptions

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The RCMP has formally ended its enforcement operations in a region of northern B.C. thats at the centre of a pipeline dispute as protests across the country continue to cause disruptions, most notably to Canadas rail network.

The economic impact of the demonstrations began to crystallize on Feb. 11 as Canadian National Railway Co. warned it will have to close “significant” parts of its network unless blockades on its rail lines are removed.

More than 150 freight trains have been idled since the blockades were set up on Feb. 6 in British Columbia and Ontario.

Passenger rail services have also been affected in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C., with Via Rail cancelling service on its Montreal−Toronto and Ottawa−Toronto routes until the end of the day on Feb. 13 because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.

Chief executive JJ Ruest said the CN network gives the company limited parking space for its trains, which means traffic is backed up from Halifax to Windsor, Ont., and in parts of B.C. approaching Prince Rupert.

In Victoria on Feb. 11, demonstrators also disrupted the business of the B.C. legislature as Lt.−Gov. Janet Austin delivered the NDP governments throne speech.

Protesters, who have been camping outside the building since Feb. 7, chanted “Shame” as politicians tried to enter the building with help from security.

The RCMP began enforcing a court injunction last week near Houston against Wetsuweten hereditary chiefs and their supporters who have been blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a key part of the $40−billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project.

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The Mounties concluded enforcement of the injunction on Feb. 10 after arresting 28 people. Of those, six were released without charges or conditions and 14 appeared before a judge and were released with a condition to obey the injunction.

The RCMP said on Feb. 11 that a temporary exclusion zone in the area was removed and everyone was free to enter the area. The police force is maintaining an office on a forest service road at the centre of the dispute to continue patrols.

“The right to peaceful, safe, and lawful protest, and freedom of expression, are important parts of Canadas democracy,” the Mounties said in a statement. “However, blocking roadways is both dangerous and illegal.”

Via Rail said 157 passenger trains have been cancelled, affecting 24,500 travellers on routes between Montreal and Toronto, and Ottawa and Toronto.

In addition to the service cancellations in Ontario, Via says a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., also means normal rail service is being interrupted between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he is working with his Ontario counterpart Caroline Mulroney toRead More – Source