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CN suing Wet’suwet’en supporters for blockading $270M of freight

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

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Saying that traffic was backed up as far as Winnipeg, CN Rail is suing Wet’suwet’en supporters who blocked rail lines into the Port of Prince Rupert in February.

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

The blockades were set up in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The rail company is suing an undisclosed number of protesters for the Feb. 8 and 9 blockades.

The railway wants an undisclosed amount in damages, a permanent injunction against blockaders’ “unlawful and unauthorized.

“CN is and will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted,” according to the civil claim obtained by the CBC.

“This is a serious issue to be tried regarding the unlawful and unauthorized trespassing to its lands, [and] the interference with its business,” the claim stated. 

The issue set off a crisis across the country as supporters of the hereditary chiefs blocks rail lines and held protests in numerous cities.

The protests grew after the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

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.

The RCMP said they 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@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. 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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March 27: Alberta agrees to protect renters

There are now 4,777 positive cases of COVID-19 in Canada including 1,479 from B.C. to Manitoba.

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Measures have finally been introduced to protect Alberta renters. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said rental rates would be frozen and late fees will not be enforced.

“No one will be evicted as of April 1, 2020 – that includes folks who have not been able to pay their rent for the last couple of months,” Kenney said.

“Effective today, there will be no rent increases,” even for those who have already been given notice of increases, Kenney said. Late fees will also not be enforced from April 1 until June 30, 2020.

Kenney clarified that these protections do not apply to rental situations in which willful damage of property or other violations of existing rental agreements.

Alberta

The province announced 56 new cases today bringing their total to 542.

These numbers include two additional cases at the Mackenzie Town continuing care centre, bringing their total to 15.

Alberta has recommended that public gatherings be reduced to less than 15 and has asked that all non-essential businesses are now close including public parks, campgrounds, restaurants, clinics, masseuse, furniture stores, and others.

The City of Calgary has ordered the shutdown of personal care businesses, closure of parks playgrounds, and skate parks, and leisure sports including football, baseball, cricket, and basketball.

“The number of community transmission cases are rising,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health said Friday afternoon.

AHS will now be limiting diagnostic imaging and blood testing to those who are emergent only.

“The more that we comply with recommendations by public health experts, the faster we can get through this,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said.

Alberta Tourism Levy will be deferred for six months to assist hotels and access to Alberta Parks will be restricted.

Kenney said the Legislature will be recalled on Tuesday March 31 to deal with provincial issues.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

The province identified another 67 cases on Friday bringing its total to 792.

Modelling suggests that physical distancing restrictions are starting to slow new cases in the province.

British Columbia confirmed new cases at three additional senior’s homes in the province, up from nine facilities on March 26.

A resident at Berwick by the Sea in Campbell River, a staff member at The Harrison at Elm Village in Surrey, and a health worker at Chartwell Independent Living at Langley Gardens have tested postive for the virus.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

Three probable cases of COVID-19 were identified in Manitoba and a woman in her sixties has succumbed to the virus. This is the first COVID-19-related death in the province.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

Nine new cases of the virus have been identified in the province bringing its total to 104.

More than half of the province’s COVID-19 cases are people under the age of 4 and six people have now been hospitalized including two people in intensive care.

Saskatchewan’s cases have risen to over 100 cases in less than a week.

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Quebec reported 10 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours and saw their confirmed cases rise by over 400 for a third day in a row.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 2,021 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 18 deaths
  • Ontario: 993 cases, including 5 recovered and 18 deaths
  • British Columbia: 792 confirmed cases including 186 recovered and 14 deaths
  • Alberta: 542 confirmed cases including 34 recovered and 2 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 104 confirmed and presumptive cases and 3 recovered
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 102 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 90 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 45 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 42 confirmed and presumptive cases and 1 death
  • Prince Edward Island: 9 confirmed cases, and 1 recovered
  • Yukon: 3 confirmed cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

There are now 4,777 positive cases of COVID-19 in Canada including 1,479 – B.C. from B.C. to Manitoba.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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March 24: Western Canada and COVID-19

As of Tuesday March 24 there are 1,068 positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 from B.C. to Manitoba and 2,757 positive or presumptive cases in Canada.

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As of Tuesday March 24 there are 1,068 positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 from B.C. to Manitoba and 2,757 positive or presumptive cases in Canada.

Alberta

The province has identified 57 new cases to bring the province’s total to 358 – 28 of which are suspected to be related to community spread.

Alberta also announced its second death, a woman in her 80’s from MacKenzie Towne continuing care centre.

Two staff members from the MacKenzie Towne continuing care centre have also tested positive.

The number of new cases, including the most recent death is why Alberta is taking the measures they have to encourage social distancing and self-isolation if ill, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during the press conference Wednesday.

The Edmonton Bonspiel that occurred March 14-15 has resulted in 12 positive cases of COVID-19. Three of the infected physicians are from the Red Deer area – 58 patients and 97 health professionals will be contacted by Alberta Health.

“This is why it is critical that individuals self-isolate at the first sign of symptoms,” Hinshaw said.

Those symptoms are fever, runny nose, sore throat or cough.

Dr. Hinshaw reiterated that self-isolation for those who are sick only needs to last 10 days after they become ill. Those who have no symptoms but are returning from out-of-country travel still need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

The province announced 145 new cases over the past 48 hours, bringing the province’s total to 617. 173 people have officially recovered and there are no new deaths, maintaining the province’s total at 13.

Two of the new cases come from one care home each, one in Little Mountain and another in Evergreen Heights.

A B.C. area dentist who attended the Pacific Dental Conference March 5-7 passed away over the weekend after contracting the virus.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said that the recovery numbers are increasing and 28 per cent of infected persons have recovered as of Tuesday.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

The province announced one new case of COVID-19 bringing its total to 21.

A drive-thru testing site will be open in Winkler on March 25 for referrals only.

“It’s really all about capacity,” Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.

“As that capacity increases, those priorities will be people with respiratory illness in hospital, all health care workers with respiratory illness, and those priority groups in potentially closed settings such as First Nations (and) possibly corrections.”

Returning travellers will continue to be tested and still require self-isolation for 14 days.

All of Manitoba’s current cases are currently recovering at home.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

The province announced an additional six cases on Tuesday bringing its total to 72.

A leaked document from Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) detailed a conservative estimate of up to 15,000 deaths in the province from COVID-19. The Ministry did not return a request for comment.

“Based on what we know from other jurisdictions, it is critical we act immediately to expand acute care capacity to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said in a release after the leaked document was made public.

“Demand will exceed capacity.  All jurisdictions are facing this challenge.  We are not alone.  We are acting immediately to ensure Saskatchewan residents get the care they need from the right provider, at the right time, with the right supports in place.”

The release stated that SHA has “already initiated measures to ensure this demand is met.”

“Actions that people and communities must take to address this challenge include:

• Practicing good hygiene, washing hands regularly and practicing social distancing (two meters apart wherever possible);
• Abide by provincial and local travel, self-isolation, event and gathering restrictions;
• Use medical supplies effectively and efficiently so that they are there when needed;
• Avoid visiting our hospitals and long-term care facilities unless there are compassionate reasons for doing so.”

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 1013 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 4 deaths
  • British Columbia: 617 confirmed cases, including 5 recovered and 13 deaths
  • Ontario: 588 cases, including 5 recovered and 7 deaths
  • Alberta: 358 confirmed cases including 2 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 72 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 24 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 21 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 3 confirmed cases
  • Yukon: 2 confirmed cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Pipeline company vows to move ahead despite aboriginal opposition

The company building a natural gas pipeline in B.C. says they will be resuming construction Tuesday – despite being given an eviction notice from an aboriginal band who claims it is on their land.

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The company building a natural gas pipeline in B.C. says they will resume construction Tuesday – despite being given an eviction notice from an aboriginal band who claim it is on their land.

“Coastal GasLink continues to remobilize construction crews across the right-of-way in anticipation of work resumption and ramp up this week, beginning with safety refresh meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday,” the company said in a statement on their website on Monday.

“Clearing, grading, workforce accommodation establishment and other activities are expected to continue as scheduled across the route. Pipe delivery also resumes this week, with continued receipt of materials at various storage sites, including north of Kitimat.”

On the weekend, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs issued a letter telling the company that its staff and contractors were trespassing and demanding they vacate the land immediately.

Even though they had a legal right to be there, CGL workers left over the weekend, leaving a small security staff behind.

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 an Jan. 3 indict 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, effective Friday.

“In addition, early on January 5, Coastal GasLink personnel discovered that trees had been felled on the Morice River Forest Service Road at Kilometer 39, making the road impassable. While it is unclear who felled these trees, this action is a clear violation of the Interlocutory Injunction as it prevents our crews from accessing work areas,” the company said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that after nearly a year of successful joint implementation of the Access Agreement, the Unist’ot’en has decided to terminate it. Our preference has always been to find mutually agreeable solutions through productive and meaningful dialogue. We have reached out to better understand their reasons and are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable path forward. To that end, we are requesting to meet with Unist’ot’en and the Hereditary Chiefs as soon as possible.

“In granting Coastal GasLink an Interlocutory Injunction, the B.C .Supreme Court made clear that it is unlawful to obstruct or blockade Coastal GasLink from pursuing its permitted and authorized activities.”

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, B.C., a distance of 670 km.

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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