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Premiers call for meeting with Trudeau amid rail blockades
OTTAWA -- Canada's premiers are calling for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss how to address the ongoing protests and rail blockades that have shut down much of the country's rail system.
The premiers made the request after a teleconference meeting held Wednesday, according to a statement on the meeting from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
"Canada’s premiers discussed the impacts that illegal blockades are having on their respective jurisdictions and economies," Moe said in a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca.
"The premiers are calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow via teleconference to discuss paths to a peaceful resolution and an end to the illegal blockades."
Late Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to CTVNews.ca that it had received the request and was “open to such calls” and “currently looking at possibilities.”
Protesters have been blockading rail lines near Belleville, Ont. in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline through their territory in northern B.C. Other blockades have sprung up across the country.
These blockades have caused rail cancellations, which have in turn disrupted the transport of goods and prompted Via Rail to issue temporary layoff notices for "close to" 1,000 employees.
CN Rail also laid off close to 450 workers in its operations in Eastern Canada after cancelling over 400 trains in the past week due to the blockade.
The premiers have been outspoken about their frustration with the blockades. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called on the police to enforce injunctions against the demonstrators, calling the protests "anarchy" in a press conference in Calgary on Wednesday.
"Reconciliation doesn't mean allowing a couple of people to shut down the national economy. Reconciliation means listening with respect, ensuring that Indigenous people get a chance to benefit from responsible development," Kenney said.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault also spoke to media in Quebec City on Wednesday and called on Trudeau to impose a deadline on the protesters "in the next few days."
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said on CTV Power Play Tuesday that this escalating dispute could be used to educate Canadians on what the laws say about these sorts of issues.
"In this country, all of us need to know that we have a voice. But we also need to know we don't have a veto," Pallister said.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has also been outspoken about the protests. While he has emphasized the importance of peaceful demonstration, he has expressed his frustration with the growingly disruptive protests at the B.C. legislature and, most recently, outside his own home.