The latest on protests across Canada in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are welcomed by members of the Mohawk People's Council before entering the Mohawk Community Centre for a meeting on Thursday Feb. 20, 2020, in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in the midst of a blockade on a nearby rail line in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Here is the latest news on protests across Canada over a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia (All times Eastern):

22:45

Protesters have left a site south of Montreal where they had been blockading railway tracks since Wednesday.

The end of the blockade follows the arrival this afternoon of riot police dispatched to enforce an injunction ordering protesters off Canadian National Railway tracks in St-Lambert, Que.

Earlier in the evening, the roughly two dozen protesters had begun dismantling their encampment, taking down tents and hauling their supplies to the edge of a security perimeter established by municipal police.

A spokesman for the protesters, who had been blocking the rail line in a show of solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, vowed that other blockades would appear.

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22:20

Protesters at a rail blockade south of Montreal began dismantling their encampment Friday night after a contingent of riot police officers arrived to enforce a court injunction.

They took downs tents and carried items such as sleeping bags, pots, propane tanks and a wood stove to the edge of a security perimeter established earlier in the day by Longueuil municipal police.

The protesters, who since Wednesday have been blocking the rail line in a show of solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, said they planned to make a declaration later Friday.

Their appeal for supporters to demonstrate near the blockade site in St-Lambert, Que., drew more than 50 people.

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17:20

Via Rail says full weekday service between Montreal and Ottawa will resume Monday.

Earlier this week, the company announced temporary layoffs for 1,000 employees as its Montreal-Toronto, Ottawa-Toronto and Montreal-Quebec City routes remained suspended indefinitely.

The company says 691 trains have been cancelled because of the nationwide blockades in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose a natural gas pipeline in B.C.

Via says more than 123,000 passengers have been affected.

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17:03

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he's thankful for prime minister's words that the barricades must come down.

Moe says Justin Trudeau has strengthened his resolve when it comes to handling the rail blockades, which was the subject of a call between premiers and the prime minister yesterday.

He says much of what was discussed with Trudeau was reflected in the Trudeau's latest announcement.

Moe says protesters blocking rail tracks have the chance to remove barricades on their own and take up the federal government's offer to talk.

However police decide to act will be left up to law enforcement, says Moe, adding that governments expect the law to be enforced.

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17:00

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says its members will be reaching out to federal, provincial and municipal politicians over the weekend to underscore the economic damage that is being caused by the ongoing rail disruptions.

In a statement today, Chamber president Perrin Beatty says there is growing concern from local chambers about the effect the blockades are having on businesses.

Beatty says there are also concerns that supplies such as grain for livestock, oxygen for hospitals and propane for heat are running out.

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16:42

A hereditary chief is promising that his people will enter into negotiations with the federal and B.C. governments after all RCMP officers leave Wet'suwet'en territory and work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline is halted.

The commitment by Chief Woos of the Grizzly House came during a news conference with leaders from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, east of Belleville, Ont., where blockades have disrupted rail traffic throughout much of Eastern Canada for more than a week.

The federal government had earlier said the RCMP had met the Wet'suwet'en's conditions, but Woos says the RCMP has increased their activities.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Kanenhariyo say the blockade erected by his people would only come down once the RCMP were off Wet'suwet'en land.

Woos also took issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments that the blockades were causing an inconvenience to Canada, suggesting the Wet'suwet'en are facing injustice.

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16:30

The Manitoba Metis Federation criticized blockades that have sprung up across the country, saying the protests are hurting people and run contrary to the wishes of elected leaders in the Wet'suwet'en territory.

Federation president David Chartrand says the barricades could result in lost lives or sick people not getting the treatment they require.

He says if that happens, it will be on the protesters' shoulders.

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16:15

Moody's Investors Service says if the rail blockades that have spread across the nation are allowed to continue, they would increasingly weigh on Canada's economic activity.

The services had forecast GDP growth in Canada for this year to be 1.5 per cent.

It says in a statement that it expects the protests to be transitory, followed by a quick rebound in commercial activity once the problem is solved, resulting in limited economic effect over the year.

Moody's says the blockades, in support of Wet'suwet'in hereditary chiefs' opposition to a natural gas pipeline, have left products stranded on rails and in ports across the country.

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14:25

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says there is extreme frustration among some provincial leaders that the nationwide blockades have been allowed to go on.

He says no one wants to escalate tensions with supporters of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, but the federal government must make it clear that it is not ignoring the well-being of the general population to avoid angering people at the blockades.

He says it's in no one's interest to simply stand back while laws are being broken.

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14:15

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says after two weeks, the barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes have to come down.

Speaking in Ottawa, he says the situation is unacceptable and untenable, with goods not moving and workers being laid off.

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14:55

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he made it clear to the prime minister on conference calls with the other premiers last night that the blockades are having devastating effects on people across the country.

He says it is scaring away investment and giving the impression that Canada can't operate as a modern democratic country.

Kenney says the prime minister told the premiers that the government's "patience is wearing thin" and that he believes that action is required "within hours and not days."

He says Trudeau said the government is continuing to reach out to some of the protesters.

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14:15

B.C. Premier John Horgan says his government continues to be ready to engage in talks with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline in his province.

He acknowledges it's a "challenge" to have a dialogue with chiefs who have refused to meet with federal or provincial cabinet ministers unless the RCMP and pipeline builder Coastal GasLink withdraw entirely from their traditional territories.

But Horgan says more people from the community, other than the hereditary chiefs, have begun to speak out, including the matriarchs who have historically been the keepers of the traditional practices of the Wet'suwet'en people.

The premier says he expects Na'moks, a hereditary chief who also goes by John Ridsdale, will be hearing from people in the community about his refusal to meet with the province, because that's "not how you have respectful dialogue with your neighbours."

He says he believes the vast majority of northern B.C. residents and Wet'suwet'en people want to find a way forward and his government remains "at the ready" to help reach that outcome.

Horgan also says he hopes the federal government can achieve a peaceful resolution to a blockade in eastern Ontario through dialogue with Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters.

And he says he's confident that Ottawa is "seized" with the issue, noting he's had regular contact with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

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12:45

The Southern Chiefs Organization of Manitoba is warning of more blockades in the wake of the Wet'suwet'en land-use and sovereignty dispute in British Columbia.

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels told a news conference in Winnipeg today that his organization plans to block border and provincial boundary crossings for two hours on March 20.

He says the affected locations include the Emerson border crossing to North Dakota, Highway 1 on the Ontario and Saskatchewan boundaries.

Daniels says the March 20th date has been selected to specifically target weekend travel.

The Southern Chiefs Organization website says it represents 34 Chiefs of Anishinaabe and Dakota First Nations in Manitoba.

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12:00

Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels says in light of recent discussions about Wet'suwet'en sovereignty in northwestern British Columbia, his Manitoba organization has a stern reminder about the rights of First Nations involved in trade and economic discussions with Canada.

Daniels says issues such as those between the Wet'suweten, Coastal GasLink and the B.C. government will not end until Canadians understand that even though Indigenous people are the original land owners, they have been relegated to society's margins since Confederation.

The organization says Aboriginal people agreed to share their territories as a show of "deep respect" for settlers.

Daniels says he is now calling on the Canadian and Manitoba governments to end a blockade that has existed for 150 years on Indigenous economies, excluding First Nations from opportunities in sectors ranging from finance to international trade and commerce.

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10:13

Police south of Montreal are patrolling an ongoing blockade along Canadian National Railway tracks in St-Lambert, but there is no sign demonstrators are ready to move.

About two dozen people have remained at the blockade since an injunction was delivered Thursday.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says it will be up to police to enforce the injunction but he hopes they will act "rapidly."

The blockade has interrupted rail service for commuters around suburban Montreal and for Via Rail travellers between Montreal and Quebec City.

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10:01

A meeting is underway in Ottawa this morning as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with his incident response group.

The group is considering several issues, including ongoing blockades by supporters of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory in northwestern B.C.

Trudeau is expected to hold a news conference this afternoon to offer an update on the team's discussions.

He's promising to provide a full account of his government's work to clear blockades that have been set up since the RCMP forced the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and supporters from a road to a Coastal GasLink worksite.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.