February 21st, 2020

Alberta premier says ongoing rail blockade risks becoming economic crisis

By The Canadian Press on February 14, 2020.

Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media in Edmonton on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says protest blockades shutting down rail service across Canada are quickly creating a full-blown economic crisis.

Kenney says Canada is a commodity-producing country and most of those go by rail.

He says if rail service isn’t restored soon, thousands of jobs are at risk because of what he calls “angry fringe groups.”

The blockades started with a protest by some Indigenous groups over the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline that would pass through First Nations territory in British Columbia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the disruptions must be resolved through dialogue, not by ordering in the police.

Kenney won’t say what he thinks Trudeau should be doing.

But he did say Friday that he believes “this is not just a regional issue and it’s not just isolated. This has become a national economic crisis.”

Kenney noted there are domino effects from the shutdown that are affecting people, including rail workers and agriculture producers.

“It means that our farmers here in the West are going to have a harder time getting their products to market,” said Kenney.

“And guess what? Our farmers – they don’t have defined benefit pensions. They don’t have job security. They don’t get paid unless that grain gets loaded onto the trains. Trains that are now being shut down.

“I think Canadians are losing patience with this. I know Indigenous people are.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2020

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