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Pipeline protesters block Freeland from Halifax meeting, tell her to call police
TORONTO -- Pipeline protesters linked arms to physically block Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland from entering a meeting at Halifax City Hall.
Freeland planned to meet with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage on Wednesday, but a group of protesters standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia blocked the front door of the building.
“No thank you, no thank you,” a protester told Freeland, adding that she may need to call the police to remove the group. “This will not happen. This meeting is not happening.”
Freeland was eventually able to get into the building and attend the meeting.
Protesters across Canada have disrupted travel for several days in a show of solidarity for the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose hereditary chiefs oppose the construction of a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline through northern B.C.
Clashes began last week between RCMP and protesters in Wet’suwet’en territory after officers began to move in to enforce a court-ordered injunction requiring protesters to stop blocking roads.
Blockades around the country have now halted railway service for five days.
Via Rail said that 223 trains will have been cancelled by Thursday, affecting at least 34, 200 passengers. In Ontario, a demonstration in Belleville has blocked train travel on the busy corridors between Toronto and Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa.
Service from Toronto to Southwestern Ontario, between Montreal-Ottawa and Montreal-Quebec is unaffected, Via Rail said.
Airlines and bus companies have both reported an uptick in travellers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he recognized the “important democratic right” of peaceful protests and encouraged “all parties to dialogue to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
“This is an important part of our democracy in Canada, but we are also a country of the rule of law and we need to make sure those laws are respected,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Senegal on Wednesday.
With files from Jeremiah Rodriguez