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CN Rail shutting down eastern Canada lines, VIA cancels service over Indigenous blockade

Federal and provincial officials have told protesting Indigenous groups they are willing to meet with them to discuss their concerns – but their blockades will have to come down first.

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CN Rail announced Thursday afternoon they will start shutting down operations in eastern Canada because of an Indigenous blockade of tracks on Ontario.

CN said the move could results in layoffs.

And shortly after, VIA Rail announced they were cancelling all their services.

“This will include stopping and safely securing all trans-continental trains across its Canadian network and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs within the company’s Eastern Canadian operational staff,” CN said in a release.

“CN sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the illegal blockades in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored. 

“The Company has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers in the face of these challenges, it is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down its Eastern Canadian operations until the illegal blockades end.”

CN President and CEO JJ Ruest said the company has had to cancel 400 trains in the last week.

A VIA Rail statement said: “VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel its services, effective immediately and until further notice.”

The moves came as federal and provincial officials have told protesting Indigenous groups they are willing to meet with them to discuss their concerns – but their blockades will have to come down first.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller made an email offer Thursday to a Mohawk band that have been blocking rail service on a rail line in southern Ontario — one of Canada’s busiest tracks.

Miller asked the Mohawks “to discontinue the protest and barricade of the train tracks as soon as practicable.

“As you well know, this is a highly volatile situation and the safety of all involved is of utmost importance to me,” Miller wrote in a the email to the Mohawks.

“I hope you will agree to this request and that we can meet in a spirit of peace and co-operation that should guide our relationship.”

Because of the rail blockade CN Rail has said they might be forced to close large swaths of tracks and that Canada’s global reputation as a reliable supplier was taking a hit.

Also, Via Rail has cancelled all passenger service in Central Canada through til Friday.

That blockade is one of many going on across the country that has seen buildings, roads and bridges blocked in protest of construction of the Global GasLink pipeline across Indigenous lands.

The protests have been growing across Canada since last Thursday when the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

Thursday, the protesters at the main camp released a new video of RCMP action at the site.

Courtesy Gidimt’en Checkpoint





RCMP officer seen at Indigenous camp near Smithers, B.C.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said provincial Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Scott Fraser would meet with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on the condition they end their rail blockade of the Port of Prince Rupert.

Thursday afternoon an agreement had reportedly been reached that will see a meeting between the chiefs, federal and provincial ministers over that blockade.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

Courtesy Twitter

The RCMP said they have found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney leadership review to be held April 9 in Red Deer, in convention-style vote

The UCP board decided not to listen to demands from 22 constituency associations that wanted a review by March at the latest, said a Western Standard source close to the board.

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Editor’s note. Due to a typo, the initial version of the story said the review would be April 6. Sources say the vote will take place April 9.

A pay-to-vote leadership review of United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney will be held April 9 in Red Deer, the Western Standard has learned.

The UCP board decided not to listen to demands from 22 constituency associations that wanted a review by March at the latest, said a Western Standard source close to the board.

The source said the board felt it was “being generous” to the 22 rebel ridings by holding a review in April.

Details on how much it will cost to go to the conference are still being worked out, but it will be a system where you have to pay to vote, the source said.

Those details are expected to be announced in January.

While the board meeting was “friendly,” pro-Kenney factions later held long discussions to plan strategy, said the source.

A convention-style review appears to favour Kenney as opposed to a one-vote-per-party-member system as Kenney is famed for his political organizing power.

His office came under fire last month for allegedly using money from third-party political action committees (PACs) to send people to the UCP AGM which turned into a Kenney love-fest that left the leader smiling.

Kenney denied knowledge of the PAC money.

“I’m not involved in third party organizations, but third party political organizations are free, within the law, to be involved in politics,” said Kenney.

Prior to the AGM Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthrie sent Kenney a letter which said the party was on the verge of collapse. 

“Public opinion continues to wane, and we may be at a point where this party cannot be salvaged,” writes Guthrie, in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

“Membership has fallen from 150,000 to less than 10,000 and fundraising is evaporating along with our credibility.”

Much of the UCP grassroots frustration has come on the heels of controversial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Kenney also brought in a vaccine passport scheme he vowed never to introduce.

Another scandal that infuriated UCP members was when the infamous pictures were published of Kenney holding an outdoor dinner on the balcony of the “Sky Palace” in contravention of the government’s of laws, regulations, and guidelines.

In April, a UCP MLA told the Western Standard they are “100% certain” Kenney would be the subject of an early party leadership review.

“Caucus is in total chaos,” said the MLA, who spoke with the Western Standard on the condition of anonymity.

But the expected caucus revolt failed to materialize.

At one point the caucus booted MLAs Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes for dissension.

Editor’s note. Due to a typo, the initial version of the story said the review would be April 6. Sources say the vote will take place April 9.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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YouTube cancels Western Standard for reporting news story

“Your channel now has one strike,” said YouTube in the e-mail, adding Western Standard’s account has been suspended for one week.

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YouTube issued one strike against the Western Standard for reporting on a Calgary police officer who was put on leave for refusing the COVID-19 vaccinations.

YouTube sent the notification via e-mail to Derek Fildebrandt, president and CEO of the Western Standard, on Wednesday, and stated the video included in the story violates YouTube’s “medical misinformation policy.”

“YouTube doesn’t allow claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO),” said the e-mail.

“YouTube banned our account for sharing content that contradicted the advice of the WHO and local health authorities,” said Fildebrandt.

“But the WHO and local health authorities contradict themselves. One such health authority, Alberta Health Services (AHS), had to contradict itself after the Western Standard caught them lying to Albertans about which they falsely claimed was a COVID-19 death of a child.”

The notice indicated YouTube had removed the video stating, “We know this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all.”

In the video, an emotional Const. Brian Denison, a 24-year veteran with the Calgary Police Service (CPS), explained the turmoil he has faced for refusing to be vaccinated by the December 1 deadline set out by the CPS.

Denison, one year from retirement, called the vaccine policy a “farce” and said the CPS is “bullying” staff. He also described the segregation of society into the “vaccinated and unvaccinated” as similar to Hitler’s Nazi regime.

The Western Standard’s News Editor Dave Naylor covered the story in an unbiased fashion and included the video of Denison.

“Your channel now has one strike,” said YouTube in the e-mail, adding Western Standard’s account has been suspended for one week.

The YouTube team further warned a second strike will result in a two-week suspension and three strikes within a 90-day period would result in the channel being permanently removed.

“YouTube — like other big tech and big social corporations — is so terrified of being regulated by the government that it over-regulates itself,” said Fildebrandt.

“In time, these monopolies will destroy themselves.”

The Western Standard has already submitted an appeal to YouTube and contacted their press department, as well as moved the video in question to Rumble.

“Of all the social media giants, YouTube has the weakest monopoly,” said Fildebrandt.

“They can ban the Western Standard and other media from posting legitimate news content all they like, and we’ll just put it on other platforms. That’s why we’ve been making a concerted effort to utilize platforms with a greater respect for free speech, like Rumble.”

The Western Standard did not receive a response from YouTube’s press department in time for publishing.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Canada joins growing diplomatic boycott of Chinese 2022 Olympics

The countries say the move is to protest the human rights record of the Chinese government, especially when it comes to the minority Uyghur Muslim community.

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First, it was the US. Then Australia. Now Canada has joined the list of countries refusing to send diplomats or high-level officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics next year.

The countries say the move is to protest the human rights record of the Chinese government, especially when it comes to the minority Uyghur Muslim community.

Canadian athletes will still be allowed to compete.

“For months, we have been coordinating and discussing the issue with our allies,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Wednesday.

“As many partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government.

“This should not come as a surprise” to the Chinese regime, said Trudeau.

“(The athletes) need to have one thing in mind and that’s representing the country to the best of their ability and winning a gold medal for Canada,” he said.

Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed a motion calling the violence directed at religious minorities in China’s Xinjiang province as “genocide.” Trudeau and his cabinet were absent for the vote.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said it “understands and respects” the decision and applauds the effort to “draw an important distinction between the participation of athletes and the participation of government officials.”

Canada’s last Olympic boycott was in Russia in 1980, protesting that country’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The US announced its decision on Monday.

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the [People’s Republic of China]’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

Chinese officials have already said the US will pay for its boycott.

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We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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