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Pipeline protesters end blockade of rail line west of Winnipeg

Manitoba premier responds to rail blockades
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister talks to reporters after protesters take down a rail blockade west of Winnipeg Thursday.

An anti-pipeline blockade of a major rail line west of Winnipeg has come down.

Protesters have dismantled barriers they set up one day earlier on an east-west Canadian National rail line, but the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition says more action is coming.

The blockade was one of many protests across the country against construction of a Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia that would cross the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Protesters block rail traffic on two lines near Headingley, Man. Wednesday.
Protesters block rail traffic on two lines near Headingley, Man. Wednesday. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister had said he would seek an injunction against the blockade, but says it wasn’t necessary because CN obtained its own court order injunction that was served on Wednesday.

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Pallister is hinting the province may seek injunctions if any new blockades spring up.

Pipeline protesters end blockade of rail line west of Winnipeg
Pipeline protesters end blockade of rail line west of Winnipeg

He says the protests are illegal and are hurting the economy.

“If activities are illegal, they need to be shut down because there are consequences,” Pallister said Thursday.

READ MORE: Traffic delayed in downtown Winnipeg on Monday due to B.C. pipeline protest

“I would say to those who would block the transport of goods and services: Remember you have friends who need jobs. Remember you have elders who need health care. You have children who need education. These things aren’t free. They’re paid for by the functioning economy.”

Protesters had removed the blockade by Thursday afternoon.
Protesters had removed the blockade by Thursday afternoon. Randall Paull/Global News

Pallister also said he will ask fellow premiers for a conference call in the coming days. He wants them to reiterate a demand that the federal government clear up approvals for pipelines and other resource projects.

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“We’ve been communicating to the federal government repeatedly the need for a less onerous, less confusing, less frustrating and, clearly, a less divisive process than the one we have now.”

Blockades in other provinces have cancelled more than 150 Via Rail passenger trains and forced a similar number of freight trains to sit idle.

B.C. pipeline protesters fill Portage and Main
B.C. pipeline protesters fill Portage and Main