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Ottawa, Feb 14 (Canadian-Media): As the nationwide rail shutdowns entered their second day, Canada's Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau conveyed Ottawa's willingness to have talks with Indigenous protesters blockading the country's main rail artery, media reports said.
CN Railways Image credit: Twitter
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has so far refused to move protesters away from the rail lines, neither did the Mohawks concede to the police's request to stop the demonstration against the Coastal GasLink pipeline which had caused the closure of more than 150 routes.
Blockades against the proposed pipeline, whose route cuts through indigenous Canadian land, began last week in British Columbia.
JJ Ruest, CN's chief executive, called the situation "regrettable", but said the cancellations were due to circumstances "beyond our control".
Andrew Scheer, Conservative Leader said Friday that the prime minister should direct the RCMP to enforce the law.
"Quite frankly, this is getting ridiculous. Radical activists, many of whom have no connection to the Wet'suwet'en people, are holding our economy hostage...Do the right thing, Prime Minister Trudeau. We can't allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs," Scheer said. "I believe it's time for the law to be enforced. Law enforcement should enforce the law."
Scheer argued the Coastal GasLink project will bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in support payments to First Nations communities.
When asked about the government's delay in taking action on southern Ontario rail action, Garneau said Ottawa has been actively engaged on the file and added,
"The government has been working every day...since this happened...Freedom of expression and peaceful protest are among the most fundamental and cherished rights in a democracy such as a Canada and must be respected and protected."
Garneau said the way forward is in "dialogue" and "building consensus."
The Mohawk activists were very firm in their decision not to end their demonstration until the RCMP leaves the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en in northern B.C.
The RCMP had made multiple arrests on Tuesday, and still has officers stationed near the pipeline construction site.