NEWS
02/26/2020 07:16 EST | Updated 02/26/2020 10:58 EST

Toronto Police Make Arrests While Clearing Disruptive Rail Protest

Demonstrations have been popping up across the country for weeks.

Stephen C. Host/The Canadian Press
A GO Transit train is seen here in 2016 as it travels through southern Ontario. Passenger train service has been hampered by demonstrations across the province.

TORONTO — Commuter rail traffic is back to normal in and around Toronto after police made arrests at a protest that emerged Tuesday as part of ongoing rail blockades across the country.

Metrolinx, the agency responsible for the GO Transit network, says it’s not expecting any of the delays and cancellations that brought parts of the southern Ontario network to a standstill during the afternoon rush hour.

Toronto police say they arrested three people at the demonstrations in the city’s west end that were in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline cutting across their traditional territory.

Police said in a tweet Wednesday morning that officers provided protesters with an injunction and began moving them from rail tracks. They added most were co-operative, but “arrests were made when necessary.”

The blockade threatened to delay morning commutes west of the city, but police say the rail line has been cleared and most commuter rail lines were running on time or with minor delays.

Police say they were called to the demonstration Tuesday to keep the peace and limit disruption to “critical infrastructure.”

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks as a show of support for the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northwestern B.C. who oppose a natural gas pipeline project cutting across their traditional territory.

In the last two days, demonstrators set up new sites in Ontario and Quebec, including one that has affected a major commuter rail system serving a huge swath of southern Ontario.

A protest at a Hamilton GO Transit station caused numerous cancellations and delays since Monday evening, but local police said protesters left the blockade site in the city peacefully at around 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. 

Other new disruptions that surfaced Tuesday include a blockade along a highway near the site of an ongoing land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., and one along a stretch of rail in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

Several high-profile blockades were dismantled by police in B.C. and Ontario earlier this week.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller has said Ottawa is still committed to peacefully resolving the situation that has hampered freight and passenger travel in much of the country for nearly three weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 26, 2020.

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