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Saskatchewan premier urges federal government to intervene in CN Rail strike

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is calling on the federal government to help find a quick resolution to the CN strike.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is calling on the federal government to help find a quick resolution to the CN strike. Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the federal government should already be working towards ending the CN Rail strike.

Moe says he has spoken to Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about the strike, which he says will jeopardize jobs in his province if it continues.

“Jobs not only in the mining industry or the energy industry, but most notably the agriculture industry,” he said Thursday. “Day by day we have grain deliveries that are not arriving at port.”

The government says more than 80 per cent of last year’s crop production was shipped by rail to different parts of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

About 3,200 members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference walked off the job Tuesday after the union and CN Rail failed to reach a contract deal.

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READ MORE: CN Rail strike enters 3rd day as talks continue with mediators

Moe said Ottawa should signal that it’s willing to take action such as imposing binding arbitration or bringing in back-to work legislation to end the work stoppage.

Waiting until Parliament reconvenes on Dec. 5 will be too late to alleviate some of the strike’s economic impacts, he said.

The Alberta government and federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer have already called on the Liberals to recall Parliament sooner to enact legislation to deal with the strike.

Transport Canada said in an email that federal mediation services are being provided to help both parties come to an agreement.

It said Garneau is meeting with several of his ministerial colleagues to discuss how the government can further address the strike and how to encourage parties to reach a resolution.

READ MORE: Grain shippers worried as CN Rail workers strike

“We need the trains running,” Moe said Thursday.

“If we’re not able to have both parties agree to binding arbitration or to some type of an agreement that would allow the trains to move in the very near future _ and we’re talking hours now, not days – the federal government should entertain coming back sooner rather than later.”

Moe as well as the NDP Opposition tabled motions in the legislature Thursday with what they would like to see done in the strike, but both were defeated.

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Trent Wotherspoon, economy critic for the NDP Opposition, said back-to-work legislation would be heavy-handed and take away workers’ rights.