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CN yesterday announced it has initiated a "disciplined and progressive" shutdown of its operations in Eastern Canada until protest blockades on its lines in Ontario are removed, company officials said in a press release.
The shut down will include stopping and securing all trans-continental trains across its Canadian network, including intercity VIA Rail service. The Metrolinx and Exo commuter-rail services will not be impacted, CN officials said.
Earlier this week, protesters set up the blockades across the country in a show of solidarity for the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose hereditary chiefs oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline through northern British Columbia.
Since protests began, more than 400 trains have been cancelled and new protests have "emerged at strategic locations" on the railroad’s mainline, CN President and Chief Executive Officer JJ Ruest said.
CN sought and obtained court orders, and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the illegal blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.
While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and "may be ending imminently" in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario "have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored," CN officials said.
The shut down may lead to temporary layoffs within the railroad’s Eastern Canadian operational staff, officials said.
“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN's activities, and beyond our control,” Ruest said. “Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely."