In a move reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party’s tea dumping, Quebec farmers have dumped their corn outside Prime Minister Trudeau’s Montreal office in protest on Monday. Farmers were upset that Trudeau didn’t step in and use parliamentary powers to send CN employees back to work.
The farmers were protesting the Liberal governemnt’s management of the CN rail strikes which had crippled the Canadian economy. The strike, protesting long working hours and the dangerous nature of the job went on for more than a week.
On Tuesday CN resolved the dispute with the workers’ union, Teamsters Canada, with a tentative deal. Employees were back at work by 2 p.m. on Tuesday and are starting regular operations by Wednesday morning.
The strikes cut off up to 85 percent of Quebec’s propane which is delivered by rail. The strike was particularly damaging to the protesting farmers because propane is needed to power grain dryers, which are vital to ensure that their corn crop can be dried and stored to be sold later. The Grain Farmers of Ontario released a statement urging the Candian government to end the strike as it was vital to ensure the farmers’ crops do not rot.
“This strike could not have come at a worse time for Ontario grain farmers. We are still seeing the majority of corn in the fields and harvest is progressing incredibly slowly. The corn being harvested is very wet and will require extensive drying to be viable, which requires the use of propane and our access is now cut off,” said Markus Haerle, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “This is devastating.”
The Quebec protestor’s, facing the same disastrous consequences of the strike as the Ontario farmers, held signs demanding the Trudeau and government to react to their need for propane.
In response to farmers’ demands to end the rail strike, Agricultural Minister Marie Claude Bibeau met with grain farmers in Regina to discuss how the strike was negatively affecting their farms.
She told farmers, “We still believe in the negotiation process. They are still around the table, and we are pushing both parties to come to an agreement,” and “This would be the best for every party and the fastest solution as well.”
With the recent tentative deal reached with the union representing CN rail workers, the propane should flow back into Quebec and the farmers crops will be saved.