Saying that traffic was backed up as far as Winnipeg, CN Rail is suing Wet’suwet’en supporters who blocked rail lines into the Port of Prince Rupert in February.
CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.
The blockades were set up in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The rail company is suing an undisclosed number of protesters for the Feb. 8 and 9 blockades.
The railway wants an undisclosed amount in damages, a permanent injunction against blockaders’ “unlawful and unauthorized.
“CN is and will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted,” according to the civil claim obtained by the CBC.
“This is a serious issue to be tried regarding the unlawful and unauthorized trespassing to its lands, [and] the interference with its business,” the claim stated.
The issue set off a crisis across the country as supporters of the hereditary chiefs blocks rail lines and held protests in numerous cities.
The protests grew after the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.
The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.
A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.
The RCMP said they found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.
On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road.
International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.
On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.
But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.
The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”
The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard