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End rail blockade and we'll meet: Feds to anti-pipeline protesters

Last Updated Feb 13, 2020 at 3:18 pm MST

Members of the Mohawk Tyendinaga territory block the CN tracks in Tyendinaga, Ont. on Friday, Feb.7, 2020 in support of the Wet'suwet'en blockade of a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has offered to meet with protesters if they stop blocking rail lines

The Canadian economy has taken a severe hit from ongoing anti-pipeline protesters, according to business leaders

Some Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The federal government is taking steps to crack down on anti-pipeline protests that have shut down rail service across the country.

Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services, has requested a Saturday meeting with the Mohawk protesters, who have been blocking train lines in Ontario, to discuss their concerns. In return, he is asking them to stop the blockades.

It’s not yet clear whether the protesters will take him up on the offer.

Meanwhile, the demonstrations are having a severe impact on the Canadian economy, according to Ryan Greer, senior director, transportation and infrastructure policy with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“They’re losing sales, curtailing production and having to make challenging business decisions,” he said. “…It’s up to government to take charge here and demonstrate that Canada is a reliable supply-chain partner that the rule of law will be enforced.”

RELATED: Hereditary chief calls for gathering of clans as protests disrupt lives, movement of goods

The rail blockades are among a series of direct actions activists have taken — including blocking traffic and occupying government offices — across the country in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in northern B.C. who are opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline planned to go through their territory.

VIA Rail announced on Thursday it was cancelling all train trips across the country due to ongoing blockades by pipeline opponents. CN Rail has also shut down operations in eastern Canada.

The federal government initially said it was up to the provinces to deal with the demonstrations but is now moving in search of a resolution.

Just over half of Canadians support the pipeline, while roughly 40 per cent support the protesters, according to a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute.