Industry associations plead with Ottawa to bring blockade to a peaceful end
February 19, 2020
Print this page
Businesses are warning of looming layoffs, lost revenue and a hit to Canada’s reputation, as rail disruptions drag on in the country.
A coalition of 39 industry associations wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling on him to “work urgently” with First Nations and police to bring the blockade to a peaceful end.
“The damage inflicted on the Canadian economy and on the welfare of all our citizens mounts with each hour that these illegal disruptions are allowed to continue,” the coalition told the Financial Post, which represents automotive, mining and numerous other industries.
While the members said they share the government’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous groups, the blockades “inflict serious damage on the economy, leaving countless middle-class jobs at risk, many of them in industries that must get their goods, parts, and ingredients to and from market by rail.”
The rail blockades sprung up on Feb. 6 as Indigenous groups and activists across the country protested in solidarity with the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs that are opposed the Coastal GasLink project in British Columbia. The hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline through their traditional territory, though it’s received approval from elected band councils.
Meanwhile, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations called for calm and constructive dialogue to ease tensions. National Chief Perry Bellegarde said governments and industry need to give the time and space to work with the Wet’suwet’en.