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Protests continue for third day

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jiml

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From VIA Rail:

"Sunday, February 9, 2020:

Due to the protesters currently blocking tracks near Belleville, Ontario, train service between Montreal and Toronto and between Ottawa and Toronto is affected in both directions. None of the trains on these two routes will operate until the issue is resolved. We are asking passengers to check our online tools for departures and arrivals updates.



  • Services continue to operate between Ottawa and Montreal, between Montreal and Quebec City, and west of Toronto in Southwestern Ontario.
  • Trains cancelled on February 9: 40, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 52, 53, 55, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 643, 644, 645.
  • While all other trains between Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto are prepared to leave on schedule should we achieve line clearance, your departure may be delayed or may not operate due to circumstances beyond our control. Please stay tuned for further updates.


VIA Rail will be automatically refunding all segments affected by this service disruption. Please note that your refund may take up to 10 days to process."
 

neroden

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This is the part of Toronto where Canada has to return the land to the First Nations they stole it from, or pay compensation, and Canada has been dragging their feet about complying with the Canadian Supreme Court.

This particular protest is a sympathy protest because British Columbia is attempting to construct a stupid, unnecessary, and destructive gas pipeline on traditional unceded First Nations (Wet'suwet'en) land in British Columbia.

It's complicated by the presence of mutiple different Wet'suwet'en governments. But what everyone -- including the Canadian Supreme Court -- agrees is that there's no treaty, no land cession, and so British Columbia and Canada *never* had any legal rights to the land *at all*. This is why other First Nations are running sympathy protests. The RCMP is illegally trespassing on sovereign Wet'suwet'en land. No wonder other groups who've had their land stolen are running sympathy protests.

The UN Committee on Racial Discrimination has criticized BC, so this is turning into an international incident.
 

PVD

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Belleville...Used to be a big Nortel facility there...just after 9-11 I was up there for a Nortel PBX software engineering class...knowing I was from NYC everyone was super supportive during my stay...
 

railiner

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Does that include the Maple Leaf between NFS and Toronto?

And does it impact the Adirondack or Vancouver trains?
 

jiml

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Apparently the Sudbury-White River train and Churchill train north of The Pas will continue to operate as well.
The latter two do not operate on CN - the tracks affected. Yesterday's Maple Leaf was supposed to terminate in Niagara Falls, where the Amtrak crew get off, but I did not see any confirmation that it had. There will be no point running it through to Toronto when VIA start laying off the staff that will meet and service it.
 

jiml

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From VIA:

Important Advisory

Please note that it is currently not possible to make a booking to travel before February 21.
 

Urban Sky

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The latter two do not operate on CN - the tracks affected. Yesterday's Maple Leaf was supposed to terminate in Niagara Falls, where the Amtrak crew get off, but I did not see any confirmation that it had. There will be no point running it through to Toronto when VIA start laying off the staff that will meet and service it.
I don’t know why the media keeps getting this wrong (“24” - one of the free newspapers which are distributed to commuters every morning - even claimed that VIA’s union leaders feared the lay-off of 6000 workers, which would be remarkable given that VIA’s entire workforce is just over 4000), but it was only CN and not VIA, which mentioned the possibility of layoffs within its workforce:

CN Initiating Progressive and Orderly Shutdown of its Eastern Canadian Network

MONTREAL, Feb. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) announced today that the Company has been forced to initiate a disciplined and progressive shutdown of its operations in Eastern Canada. This will include stopping and safely securing all trans-continental trains across its Canadian network and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs within the company’s Eastern Canadian operational staff.
https://www.cn.ca/en/news/2020/02/cn-initiating-progressive-and-orderly-shutdown-of-its-eastern-ca/
 

F900ElCapitan

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Wow!! I was wondering what was going on when I pulled up transitdocs and only saw two trains. Amtrak’s train tracker is INOP and now this. We don’t get much in the way of Canadian news down here in Texas so is a bit of a surprise.
 

jiml

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I don't understand all the issues, but if only CN tracks are being blockaded, perhaps VIA can temporarily use CP rails until it's all resolved?
Wouldn't it be great to "detour"on the Canadian to its historic route thru Calgary, and Banff?:)
Not practical, but we can always dream.
 

jiml

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I don’t know why the media keeps getting this wrong (“24” - one of the free newspapers which are distributed to commuters every morning - even claimed that VIA’s union leaders feared the lay-off of 6000 workers, which would be remarkable given that VIA’s entire workforce is just over 4000), but it was only CN and not VIA, which mentioned the possibility of layoffs within its workforce:


https://www.cn.ca/en/news/2020/02/cn-initiating-progressive-and-orderly-shutdown-of-its-eastern-ca/
You are correct that the media is "running with this" and I sincerely hope it is not true. However, is it likely VIA will continue to pay staff to do nothing for at least another week (by their own release)? Our absentee PM just announced they were not going to intervene, so this could drag on indefinitely.

Also a question, to which you may know the answer: Why was the whole system shut down? Since CN is maintaining its western network, surely those operations could have continued.
 

jiml

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As in any dispute, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Neroden has certainly articulated the liberal perspective often quoted by the media. However, the elected chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en have agreed to the pipeline in question. Some "hereditary" chiefs have questioned their right to do so, and that is essentially the dispute in BC which has involved court challenges, decisions and the RCMP on native land. I have no opinion on this, but what gets lost is that if a similar dispute happened in Wyoming or Montana, for example, and in sympathy a regional band in the northeast blocked the NEC and/or a heavy freight route, what would the reaction be? Would it have continued this long? If CSX announced it could no longer guarantee "the safety" of passenger trains on their tracks, would Amtrak shut down all those trains?

It's also important to note that those blocking the tracks do not even have the support of their own band leadership. Many of them are not affiliated with the Mohawks at all. The facts are all out there and easily searched.
 

Seaboard92

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I know there are protesters blocking the CP in Quebec somewhere on the line headed towards the D&H and near Vancouver the main is blocked because the West Coast Express isn’t running either.

I think it’s time the government acts before the economy grounds to a stop.
 

jiml

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Research Oka, Ipperwash or Caledonia. We don't want any of those again!
Exactly. That's why no level of government wants to tackle it. Ottawa wants it to be Ontario's problem and vice-versa. The tribe sent in their own cops to deliver the court order to move the blockade and got nowhere. The CN police are powerless, so everyone called in the OPP (state police for our American friends) and all they've done is set up a traffic perimeter waiting for the Feds.
 

Urban Sky

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You are correct that the media is "running with this" and I sincerely hope it is not true. However, is it likely VIA will continue to pay staff to do nothing for at least another week (by their own release)? Our absentee PM just announced they were not going to intervene, so this could drag on indefinitely.

Also a question, to which you may know the answer: Why was the whole system shut down? Since CN is maintaining its western network, surely those operations could have continued.
If you lay off staff, you have to pay them severance pay and try to rehire them when the line is free again. Therefore, laying people off only makes sense when you have certainty that no train will roll for the next few months and where you have a few weeks notice to re-hire people. This was the case with Churchill when service north of Gillam was blocked for almost 20 months, but it absolutely doesn’t apply to the current situation, where the blockade could be removed any day and service resume within 48 hours.

In the case of CN, threatening to lay off a large number of workers is mostly aimed at increasing the pressure on the government, while signalling to their private shareholders that they are prepared to protect their interests (by holding costs down). Conversely, VIA is a crown corporation and as such the government will probably want to avoid more bad news and will therefore accept that staff get paid without any trains rolling. It will just increase its operational deficit, but that is paid automatically by the federal taxpayer through operational funding...

Regarding your last question, it’s exactly like it is described on VIA’s website:
February 14, 2020 - 11:10AM
Following an advisory from the infrastructure owner that they are unable to support our operations across their network, VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel all of its services on the network with the exception of Sudbury-White River (CP Rail) and Churchill-The Pas (Hudson Bay Railway), until further notice.
 

jiml

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Regarding your last question, it’s exactly like it is described on VIA’s website:
I saw that yesterday, but it sounds like something got lost in translation between CN's posturing and VIA's. There was supposed to be no impact on the western network. Shutting down the Canadian - and Windsor service for that matter - seemed unnecessary unless VIA plans to furlough staff.
 

Urban Sky

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I saw that yesterday, but it sounds like something got lost in translation between CN's posturing and VIA's. There was supposed to be no impact on the western network. Shutting down the Canadian - and Windsor service for that matter - seemed unnecessary unless VIA plans to furlough staff.
I don’t know how I could be any clearer:
February 13, 2020

VIA RAIL CANCELS MOST OF ITS SERVICES

MONTREAL, February 13, 2020 - Following a notice from the infrastructure owner, CN Rail, that they are no longer in a position to fulfill their obligations under the Train Service Agreement between VIA Rail and CN Rail, VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel all of its services on the network with the exception of Sudbury-White River (CP Rail) and Churchill-The Pas (Hudson Bay Railway), until further notice.
https://media.viarail.ca/en/press-releases/2020/rail-cancels-most-its-services

There whole network is clogged with stranded freight trains and they don’t see themselves in a position to navigate any VIA trains around them. That’s highly regrettable, but it’s the reality...
 

neroden

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As in any dispute, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Neroden has certainly articulated the liberal perspective often quoted by the media. However, the elected chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en have agreed to the pipeline in question. Some "hereditary" chiefs have questioned their right to do so, and that is essentially the dispute in BC which has involved court challenges, decisions and the RCMP on native land. I have no opinion on this, but what gets lost is that if a similar dispute happened in Wyoming or Montana, for example, and in sympathy a regional band in the northeast blocked the NEC and/or a heavy freight route, what would the reaction be? Would it have continued this long? If CSX announced it could no longer guarantee "the safety" of passenger trains on their tracks, would Amtrak shut down all those trains?

It's also important to note that those blocking the tracks do not even have the support of their own band leadership.
It's quite complicated given the presence of conflicting tribal governments (this has been a recurrent issue in the US as well). However, the current legal status is that the "traditional" chiefs have the legal rights to part of the land the pipeline is supposed to go through, specifically the part they've set up the checkpoint on. Canadian federal courts have confirmed this, but BC courts (which lack jurisdiction entirely!) are supporting the trespassing pipeline company.

The underlying grievance is that Canada is still not settling claims for stolen land. In the US, honestly, we have settled a surprisingly large number, with the remainder mostly related to the New York theft of Iroquois lands.

Of course, the fact that the pipeline is being built for fossil fuel infrastructure isn't helping one bit. Movements like Extinction Rebellion have already decided to take direct action to stop fossil fuel infrastructure even where it's fully "legal", because if we don't stop it, it is going to destroy civilization. I honestly can't disagree with their logic, even if I think there are better tactics; the argument of necessity has already been made in court, *and even succeeded* in some courts.

The simple move would be for Trudeau to revoke the permits for the pipeline, which would lead to litigation but quiet EVERYTHING down. He doesn't seem to be smart enough to do that. Building oil and gas pipelines makes Canada an embarassment in the international community anyway. It's a very strange thing to hang your government on.
 

neroden

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OK, now I'm laughing at the tweets from an indigenous satire website:

https://twitter.com/TheEagleist/status/1229199169845366790
"EXCLUSIVE: Rail blockades could see cities run out of all the things currently denied to most First Nations"

https://twitter.com/TheEagleist/status/1228393849254535173
"BREAKING: Career politician who lives in taxpayer-funded house and whose party paid for his kid's private school says Indigenous people blocking rail lines need to check their privilege"

https://twitter.com/TheEagleist/status/1225952826314166272
"Reconciliation now includes heavily-armed police: Canada"

https://walkingeaglenews.com/2019/12/16/feds-to-auction-off-excess-reconciliation/
"Feds to auction off excess reconciliation"

https://walkingeaglenews.com/2019/11/26/scientists-discover-earliest-known-ancestor-of-canadian-reconciliation/
"Scientists discover earliest known ancestor of Canadian reconciliation"

...gives a little perspective on why the protesters are not going to stop until the Canadian government stops invading with armed goons
 

neroden

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And an update. The bottom line is that Canada has to stop invading the traditional territory of the traditional Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs -- remove the armed RCMP. Then the protests will stop.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/chief-meeting-mohawks-1.5466109

Interestingly, the Mohawks of Tyendinaga have been legally precise. They have set up camps adjacent to the lines, and requested that CN stop traffic. They have not blocked the lines. (I may be wrong, but it looks like they actually settled the land claim over the CN tracks proper, but not the surrounding land). CN honored their request.

----
Many have asked why the pipeline company did not follow any of the routes which WERE approved by the hereditary chiefs, following already-disturbed land, and insisted on blasting a route which was NOT approved by the hereditary chiefs through pristine land.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/wetsuweten-coastal-gaslink-pipeline-alternative-path-1.5464945

Short answer: the pipeline company wanted to build the pipeline on the cheap while evading additional consultations with tribes and evading environmental analysis in order to build in a hurry.

The correct move for Trudeau is to tell the pipeline company to stop and find another route, taking the time it takes to do it right. But he appears to be unwilling to do the right thing. This is why some of the protest signs say "The federal government is a subsidiary of Enbridge Oil".
 
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