TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY, Ont. – A police operation that saw officers descend on a rail blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario and arrest several protesters has cleared the way for train service to resume.
Ontario Provincial Police say officers moved in Monday morning after efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution were exhausted and a midnight deadline to clear the blockade, which has brought freight and passenger rail traffic in much of Eastern Canada to a virtual standstill, was ignored.
Politicians hailed the police raid but the use of force angered Indigenous leaders, community members and advocacy groups who had hoped for a peaceful resolution.
The protesters had set up the blockade in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who oppose the development of a natural gas pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.
CN issued a brief statement Monday saying the company was please the “illegal blockade” had come to an end, but offered no indication when service would resume.
Meanwhile, Alberta politicians are returning to the legislature with a promise of new legislation targeting protesters who set up blockades.
Premier Jason Kenney says he plans to table a bill today that would create stiffer penalties for “anyone who riots on or who seeks to impair critical economic infrastructure, including railways.”
The United Conservative leader has been critical of protesters who have set up blockades on rail lines in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose a natural gas pipeline project on their land in British Columbia.
Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en set up a blockade on a CN rail line on the edge of Edmonton last week.
Kenney says the blockades have cost jobs and hurt the economy, and are also in part to blame for Teck Resources Ltd. shelving its massive mine project in the province.
Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell is to deliver the traditional speech from the throne in the afternoon.
The premier says a second bill will be introduced in the coming days that would allow the public to pose questions on provincial referendums.
“If there are questions that people think politicians or the legislature are not willing to address or to take on, the Citizens Initiative law which we will introduce in the days to come will empower the people of Alberta to put on the ballot a vote on critical issues about our future,” Kenney said Monday.
Finance Minister Travis Toews is to table the budget on Thursday.
Via Rail announced its route between Montreal and Halifax will resume service on Friday.