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CanadaIntermodalInternationalNewsRailTrucking

Intermodal executive hails Trudeau’s ‘badass’ end-run around rail blockades

Reported deal to let Canadian National quietly route some freight around protests gets high marks from director of trucking company hit hard by the disruptions.

Something strange happened over the weekend to Transport DSquare in Montreal. The intermodal carrier got notice that rail containers from Western Canada — tied up indefinitely from weeks of protest blockades disrupting Canadian National’s network — were en route. 

“We were shocked,” Transport DSquare Director Corey Darbyson told FreightWaves.

The explanation could lie in a report from the CBC today that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government brokered a deal to let CN use rival Canadian Pacific’s network to route some freight around protest blockades — including via the U.S. The CBC said the arrangement allowed for deliveries of essential goods, including propane, to communities otherwise cut off by the blockades. 

Neither rail carrier would confirm the agreement, which apparently occurred as the Trudeau government worked to defuse indigenous-led protests connected to the route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“While people kicked and screamed, Trudeau and the team did a badass job,” Darbyson said.

“To get two juggernauts to share tracks and break bread together and to route through the States while negotiating the protests. It’s badass,” he added.

Trudeau’s handling of the blockades has drawn strong criticism from the left and right in Canada — for either being too easy on the protesters or not doing enough to address their underlying demands.

It remains to be seen when CN will resume freight service on its Eastern Canada network after police removed protesters from a blockade in Belleville, Ontario, on Monday.

Other isolated protests may continue to affect the supply chain. Since Monday, protests have continued to target some rail crossings, highways and the Port of Vancouver.

Shipper fears further supply chain impacts — but supports protests

Jill Van Gyn, founder and CEO of British Columbia-based Fatso Peanut Butter is considering moving a forthcoming shipment of its namesake product across Canada via truck instead of rail if the disruptions continue — at an added cost of C$6,000-C$8,000.

“I’m quite nervous about it,” Van Gyn told FreightWaves.

However, she supports the protests in solidarity with hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation who oppose the route of Coastal GasLink through their territory in British Columbia. She went public with that support in an op-ed published by the CBC, putting her at odds with many prominent business leaders in Canada.

She blamed the potential impact on her business squarely at the feet of Canada’s federal and provincial governments and their failure to address long-standing issues in the country’s indigenous communities.

“It’s crappy that we might be affected,” Van Gyn said. “But it’s a question of whom you’re mad at.”

Darbyson, meanwhile, is optimistic that freight flows will normalize as CN service resumes. He expressed doubt that lingering protests will bring serious harm to the supply chain, noting that the coronavirus poses a larger threat.

“Coronavirus is going to affect us,” Darbyson said. “A lot of shipments are not going to be shipped.”

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Nate Tabak, Border & North America Correspondent

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist who covers Canada for FreightWaves. He spent seven years as an investigative reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley. Contact Nate at ntabak@freightwaves.com.

6 Comments

  1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    Two rail rival capitalist oligarchs coming together ! They’re UNITING for a common cause !

    And WTF are TRUCKERS DOING for their own cause to combat injustices and abuse ??? NOTHING , THEY REMAIN DIVED !
    What a disgrace !

    2020 isn’t hindsight , it’s an eye opener , and it’s NOW !

    WAKE UP AND UNITE !

    In my humble opinion ………..

    1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

      Typo correction :

      And WTF are TRUCKERS DOING for their own cause to combat injustices and abuse ??? NOTHING ,
      THEY REMAIN “DIVDED ! “

      1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

        AGAIN typo correction :

        And WTF are TRUCKERS DOING for their own cause to combat injustices and abuse ??? NOTHING ,
        THEY REMAIN “DIVIDED ! “

  2. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    You should read it at this link :
    Quebec police move in to end rail blockades — but not in Kahnawake

    Quote in parts :
    On Tuesday afternoon, as police encircled that protest, CP issued a statement saying it has done its best to act “honourably through direct and respectful engagement with Indigenous leaders.”

    It said CP chief executive Keith Creel wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, “expressing CP’s support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their request for direct dialogue with the prime minister.” 

    “Unfortunately, the blockade at Kahnawake has severed vital rail connections and severely impacted CP’s operations, customers and the broader economy. Outside of this blockade other ‘copycat’ blockades, including some not involving Indigenous peoples, have developed.

    CP said it was compelled to take action to get a provincewide injunction to deal with future “copycat” blockades.
    “We encourage continued peaceful dialogue between all parties at Kahnawake to resolve this blockade as soon as possible.”

    End of this part , next part :

    ‘Not a good idea’
    While CP’s statement suggests it is holding out hope for a negotiated end to that blockade in Kahnawake, Premier François Legault raised the possibility earlier Tuesday that the provincial police would be involved in an operation to take it down, along with Kahnawake’s police service, the Mohawk Peacekeepers.

    “I trust the Sûreté du Québec to take all steps necessary to act with the Peacekeepers,” Legault said at an event in Montreal.
    “There is an urgency to re-establish [rail] service. The Quebec economy is losing $100 million daily. There are people suffering.”
    The disruption has left Quebec with only four days’ worth of propane reserves, a government official said in an affidavit filed in support of CP’s injunction request.

    If those reserves run out, the affidavit said, the province will be unable to provide certain essential health services, and farmers could begin losing livestock.

    However, Kenneth Deer, a representative of Kahnawake’s traditional Longhouse political system, said there were no plans to take down the barricade. He also said it “was not a good idea” for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to attempt to intervene. 

    “We all remember Oka, and we don’t want to have a repeat,” Deer told reporters Tuesday, referring to the 1990 standoff which saw Kahnawake Mohawks barricade the Mercier Bridge, a major link to Montreal, for seven weeks, in support of Mohawks embroiled in a land dispute in their sister community of Kanesatake.

    That crisis, sparked when an SQ police officer was killed in an attempt to enforce an injunction in Kanesatake, dragged on for 78 days.”

    END QUOTE .

    HOWEVER , one should not be alarmed :

    Read :
    In Kanesatake , Women are the face of Mohawk resistance
    End quotes .

    I strongly doubt the SQ is going to step in to enforce an injunction on Kanesatake territory . Legault is dreaming !

    In my humble opinion ……….

    1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

      Especially not on Kahnawake Territory !

      IMHO

  3. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    UPDATE !!!

    Quote February 26 2020

    Longhouse Reaction to Injunction

    For Immediate Release
    Kahnawake Mohawk Territory – Enniiska(February) 26, 2020

    Greetings from Kanienkehaka at Kahnawake – People of the Longhouse.
    Our Longhouse is extremely troubled by the news that a Quebec Superior Court has granted Canadian Pacific Railway an injunction to have the rail blockade forcibly removed on Mohawk Territory . We believe this is an act of provocation and aggression , that will exacerbate an already volatile situation .

    Ultimately , coercive state-sponsored foce is the wrong way to make peace .

    We remind the Province of Quebec and the Government of Canada that our unceded territory was illegally expropriated to build this railway in the last 19th century . Canadian Pacific Railway is a direct agent of colonization , as they stole indigenous lands to build a path that facilitated indigenous colonization and oppression in the west. Canadian Pacific is in no moral position to play victim to Quebec Superior Court. Our land was stolen for that railway.

    Despite the current political climate in Kahnawake , we must continue to focus on the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en people We call upon indigenous allies and climate change activists to mobilize in support of the We’suwet’en struggle.
    The Kanienkehaka at Kahnawake continue to support the people of Wet’suwet’en Nation in this struggle .

    In solidarity ,
    Atsenhaienton Kenneth Deer
    Secretary-Kahnawake Branch
    Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy
    People of the Longhouse

    END QUOTE .

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