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CN and Canadian Pacific, Canada’s two largest railways have been sharing each other’s rail lines in an effort to keep the transportation of essential supplies moving through the protest blockades.
The protests continue with new blockades as anti-pipeline protestors halt the transportation of goods and people in an attempt to shut down the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline that will cross through territory belonging to the Wet’suwet’en people.
The two rail rivals decided to work together after some quiet talks brokered by a government desperate to dampen the growing economic threat caused by the protestors according to CN and government sources.
Ontario Provincial Police arrested 10 of the demonstrators on Monday in order to get service back up and running on the line near Belleville, Ont.
CN trains are bypassing the blockades using alternate routes, travelling through the U.S. to continue deliveries to Quebec and the Maritimes. Communities in those provinces are facing shortages of essential goods such as propane for heating and chemicals for water treatment facilities.
The deal was negotiated by Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office, Transport Canada, CN Rail and Canada Pacific all in private out of fears that more blockades would be set up in response according to CBC.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to the CN/CP side deal en route to question period in the House of Commons yesterday saying, “Over the past number of days we’ve been working with rail carriers to ensure that many trains continue to use alternate routes to get through and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to avoid some of the most serious shortages,” said Trudeau.
The Retail Council of Canada’s senior vice president, Karl Littler, commented after hearing of the news, “We’re talking about foods, we’re talking about fuel to keep people heating in what can be a cold winter,” said Littler.
“You’re talking about a lot of stuff that Canadians need everyday. I think it’s the responsible thing to look to see what alternative channels exist and if that means collaboration in these circumstances, so much the better.”