Longueuil police served demonstrators protesting in support of the Wet’suwet’en with an injunction on Thursday evening, demanding they clear the rail.
The Canadian National Railway obtained the injunction to take down the blockade obstructing its tracks on Thursday morning.
Olivier Quenville, a senior manager of public affairs at CN, confirmed that the organization’s request to dismantle the blockade in Saint-Lambert was approved.
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters at the provincial legislature on Thursday that Longueuil police could be sent in to enforce the injunction. He said the demonstration is not on First Nations land, making it easier to intervene.
“After the injunction is accepted, we will take action,” he said, adding he expects it to be peaceful.
The blockade in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs in British Columbia has disrupted service on commuter trains and led to cancellations on the Via Rail corridor between Montreal and Quebec City.
Snow has been piled onto tracks, with signs strung between rail signals since protesters arrived at the area on Wednesday.
Protesters initially said they planned to stay until the RCMP leaves the barricaded area in Wet’suwet’en territory but changed their tune after Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said police offered to move away.
The group behind the blockade, known as MTL Wet’suwet’en Solidarity, responded to the news on Thursday, saying in a tweet it would continue its protest “in solidarity” with the hereditary chiefs.
“We’re not leaving,” the group said.
Saint-Lambert resident David Skitt stopped by the protest to voice his concerns about how the blockade is cutting off access to key streets in the area.
“It’s enough,” he said. “This is ridiculous. It’s not the same thing as blocking in Kanesatake or on First Nations land.”
In Kahnawake, an ongoing blockade has lasted nearly two weeks and forced the cancellation of the Candiac train line since Feb. 10. However, Legault said it is difficult to dismantle a blockade on the Mohawk territory since it has its own police force.
“It’s a First Nation territory, so yes, there is a difference,” he said.
‘It is urgent’
As blockades continue across the country, Legault repeated his call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene.
Legault said he and other premiers are concerned about the disrupted rail service and the impact on the economy.
“We want him to explain his plan to get out of this crisis because it is urgent,” said Legault.
Quebec’s premier has been critical of Ottawa’s handling of the blockades, which began in early February. He has repeatedly demanded Trudeau act to ensure service resumes on railways.’
Trudeau has been under increasing pressure to end the blockades, with Conservatives calling for the government to use force, while the Liberal government insists negotiations are the only way to a lasting solution.
— With files from Global News’ Olivia O’Malley, Alessia Maratta and The Canadian Press