Demonstrators have dismantled and left their Saint-Lambert rail blockade on Montreal’s south shore Friday evening after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for an end to the rail blockades across Canada.
After being served with an injunction on Thursday, protesters continued to obstruct the tracks on Friday as local police officers blocked off the surrounding area to traffic.
Longueuil police remained at the blockade all day Friday but did not have to intervene to remove the protesters. Officers met with demonstrators next to their encampment several times over the afternoon before Trudeau called for the end to the rail blockades across country.
The Canadian National Railway obtained its request for an injunction on Thursday as demonstrators announced they had no intention of leaving their makeshift barricade in Saint-Lambert.
Quebec Premier François Legault said on Friday it’s up to them as to when and how to enforce the injunction, but that train stoppages must stop.
“The laws must be respected in Saint-Lambert,” Legault told reporters in Montreal.
The blockade, which began on Wednesday, is in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs in British Columbia who are protesting the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory.
While some residents have voiced their frustrations and tried to take down the barricade, Henri-François Girard showed up on Friday to show his support.
“I’m just here for the environment,” said Girard. “Of course the Wet’suwet’en are important too. It’s just that their struggle goes hand in hand with the environmental struggle.”
Demonstators also took to the streets in downtown Montreal on Friday afternoon in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
The protest south of Montreal has led to train cancellations for commuters who rely on exo’s Mont-Saint-Hilaire to get downtown. Train users were stuck once again on Friday and left to find alternatives.
As a result, Via Rail has also suspended service on its corridor between Montreal and Quebec City.
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 on Thursday it is difficult to dismantle a blockade on the Mohawk territory since it has its own police force.
“The real problem isn’t in Kahnawake,” he said on Friday. “It’s in Belleville in Ontario.”
‘The barricades need to come down now’
Trudeau said on Friday afternoon that it is time for the blockades across the Canada to be dismantled. His comments come as pressure mounts on the government to act.
“The barricades must now come down,” he said. “The injunctions must be obeyed and the law must be upheld.”
The nationwide blockades — which have lasted more than two weeks — have spurred job layoffs and train cancellations across the country. Canadians are “paying the price,” according to Trudeau.
Trudeau went on to say that although he wants the rail blockades to end peacefully, “every attempt at dialogue” has been made but discussions haven’t been productive.
“We are waiting for Indigenous leadership to show that it understands,” he said.
— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter, Olivia O’Malley, Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press