The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating after a semi-truck drove through a temporary roadblock in Manitoba and possibly struck a demonstrator as tensions and supply chain disruptions intensified in Canada from protests over a proposed gas pipeline.
Investigators are reviewing footage captured Monday by Global News, which appears to show a semi-truck attempting to drive around the blockade before protesters got in front of it. One protester reported that the truck struck him and caused minor injuries.
Police officers monitoring the blockade quickly stopped the truck, RCMP Manitoba spokesperson Robert Cyrenne told FreightWaves. The unidentified driver cooperated with officers, who released him pending further investigation, Cyrenne said.
In addition to the footage, police are reviewing witnesses’ statements.
“There’s a lot to be taken into consideration,” Cyrenne said.
The blockade is part of protests happening throughout Canada in support of an indigenous group’s opposition to the route of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. The pipeline is slated to go through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation — something its hereditary chiefs oppose.
The protests, however, have led to serious disruptions of Canadian National’s rail network. CN shut down the entire eastern portion of its network, including the Toronto-Montreal corridor, because of the protest blockades’ proximity to the tracks.
Via Rail, Canada’s largest passenger rail carrier, announced temporary layoffs of 1,000 employees because of continued disruptions along CN’s tracks.
Pressure, meanwhile, mounts on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from business leaders and conservative lawmakers who want the leader to bring the blockades to an end.
Trudeau, taking a similar approach to the strike by CN rail workers in November, is attempting to chart a middle path of pressing for a negotiated, peaceful end to the blockades amid worsening economic consequences, including backlogs at ports and reports of goods shortages.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a national industry group, also pressed for an end to the blockades. The CTA noted that many members rely on rail connections for their freight.
A Quebec-based intermodal trucking carrier, Transport Dsquare, told FreightWaves on Wednesday it has hundreds of containers on hold because of the CN disruption.
“The backlog is real. Truly starting to feel the slowdown,” Dsquare President Corey Darbyson wrote in a text message.