Pipeline protesters plan to be there 'until further notice' as exo cancels trains on Candiac line
MONTREAL -- Two protesters who are blocking the tracks for exo's Candiac commuter train line say they'll be there "until further notice."
They argue they are standing in solidarity with Indigenous populations in British Columbia against the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The commuter train network announced mass cancellations Monday morning due to "a track obstruction."
"[For] people just trying to go to work, it's unfortunate for them, but unfortunately for us, it's something we struggle with all the time. We're always inconvenienced and we're also an inconvenience to the Canadian government," said protester Wenhniseriio.
"The reason we're doing this here is because that way, we can be heard because otherwise, no one wants to listen to Indigenous issues. Nobody wants to hear about it and if they do hear about it, they don't really care unless it inconveniences them."
Wenhniseriio states if commuters want to "get on the train" any time this week, they should contact the federal government about the pipeline.
exo confirmed it has about 30 buses that will be deployed from the Candiac, Delson, Saint-Constant and Sainte-Catherine stations to bring commuters to the Mansfield terminal.
"If we continue to not be able to go through, basically it's the plan with the buses that will stick," exo spokesperson Catherine Maurice told CTV News.
The journey time will be 25 to 55 minutes, depending on the departure time, the company said.
Anyone looking for information is asked to call 514-281-2595.
The public transit authority had warned over the weekend that demonstrators near the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway lines could disrupt service for an indefinite period. CP Rail did not reply to a message seeking comment.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake added its support for the Wet'suwet'en people and hereditary chiefs, condemning RCMP actions.
"We remind British Columbia, Canada and the RCMP that it must use restraint, patience and common sense when dealing with the complex issues relating to Indigenous peoples and territories," Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Norton said in a statement.
Protests have cropped up across the country -- most notably near Belleville, Ont., where a blockade has led to the cancellation of VIA Rail service in the Montreal-Toronto corridor and brought freight traffic to a halt. Rail service between Toronto and Ottawa is also affected.
VIA Rail says another blockade near Hazelton, B.C., is stopping service between Prince Rupert and Prince George.
"The trains are stopped," said Sean Finn, CN head of corporate affairs and chief legal officer. "Nothing is going through ... You put any disruption anywhere on our track, it backs up all the way to our terminal and the ships in Halifax."
Finn said CN was in court in B.C. to seek an injunction and advise an Ontario Superior Court judge that a previous injunction had been issued Friday without any change in the situation.
"When you start blockading rail lines that precludes goods from moving across Canada, this impacts people's livelihoods, people's jobs, not to mention the travelling public," Finn said. "We recognize the right for people to protest when they don't agree on an issue in Canada, but they must do so peacefully, in a safe fashion -- not on a railway track, which is not a safe place to be."
As of Monday afternoon, VIA Rail said more than 100 trains had been cancelled since the blockade was mounted last week, with more than 16,000 passengers affected.
The company says passengers are being given three-hour cancellation notices on the routes and refunded.
"At this time, it is too early to tell how service resumption will take place as their will be significant rail traffic that will need to be dealt with," the rail provider said in a statement. "VIA Rail will work with the infrastructure owner on the specifics of the resumption of service once the situation has been resolved."
-- with files from The Canadian Press.