Amtrak has turned around multiple trains after protesters blocked rail tracks in Seattle and Vancouver.
The company said Cascades Train 516, 517, 518 and 519 were either returning or being cancelled due to protests over the Family Day and President’s Day long weekend.
Protesters are supporters of the five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are opposed to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline crossing their traditional territory in northwest B.C. Elected First Nations councils of the 20 First Nations the 670-kilometre pipeline will cross support the project. However, the five hereditary chiefs say elected councils have no authority off-reserve, including large swathes of traditional territory.
“This situation has the potential to affect service into Canada until it is resolved,” Amtrak said in a tweet.
The BNSF Railway Company, which operates the rail line along which Amtrak trains, and freight, run from Seattle to Vancouver, said there was a protest in Seattle on Sunday on its mainline.
In a statement, the company said it “ended peacefully.”
“We respect people exercising their Constitutional rights safely. Trespassing on railroad property is very dangerous,” public affairs director Courtney Wallace told Black Press.
Activists have been blocking rail lines for days across Canada as part of a series of mounting protests against Coastal GasLink building its pipeline through Wet’suwet’en lands.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to meet with a federal emergency response group on Monday as political pressure mounts for the government to do something about the blockades.
The group was described upon its inception in 2018 as a "dedicated, emergency committee that will convene in the event of a national crisis or during incidents elsewhere that have major implications for Canada."
Trudeau is foregoing today's planned trip to Barbados, where he was slated to meet with Caribbean leaders to campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.
He faced criticism last week over his presence in Africa and Europe as the protests were beginning, so Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will represent Canada in Trudeau's place.
There's mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke with Trudeau late yesterday and issued a statement urging the federal government to take action.
"Premier Ford asked the prime minister to take immediate action and provide detail on a clear plan to ensure an end to this national issue," the statement read.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said last week that Trudeau should tell Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to use his authority under the RCMP Act to end what he called the "illegal blockades."
But Trudeau shot back, arguing that Canada is not a country "where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters."
Thus far, the public-facing part of Trudeau's plan appears to centre on discussions and negotiations, rather than police action.
— with files from Canadian Press