Trudeau seeking quick, peaceful solution to nationwide rail blockades

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OTTAWA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that his government is committed to finding a quick, peaceful solution to the ongoing Indigenous protests that have caused shutdown of the country's rail system.

"I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many people and families across the country. We're going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully and that's what we're going to do," Trudeau said after meeting with the Incident Response Group on Monday.

The group, which includes key cabinet ministers, was discussing the escalating dispute over a planned natural gas pipeline that would cross Wet'suwet'en territory in northern British Columbia.

Canadian cargo and passenger rail operators announced to suspend all railway service on Thursday after Indigenous protesters across the country had been blocking access to railway lines in support of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, whose hereditary chiefs oppose the controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline project on their ancestral territory in British Columbia province.

The Wet'suwet'en First Nation protesters have been blocking road access to a construction site for the pipeline, a key part of a multibillion liquefied natural gas export project in the province.

A growing number of business leaders and industry groups have called for government or police intervention in the shutdowns.

The rail blockades led the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which represents about 200,000 businesses crossing all sectors in the country, to issue a statement last week in which it said that Canada's supply chains from propane to grain and food and consumer items "are being severely damaged by the continuing interruptions."

In a joint statement released on Friday, the Retail Council of Canada and Food & Consumer Products Canada, which together employ nearly 2.4 million Canadians, said that "the implications of extended blockades are that there will be shortages on shelves, that groceries and necessary household products will not get through to consumers and that there will be spoilage of fresh food and other time-sensitive items, in turn affecting Canada's agricultural and agri-food sector among others."

Canadian opposition Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer also criticized Trudeau government's response, suggesting that the government should order police to put an end to the blockades.

However, Trudeau said that "Canada is not the kind of country where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters." Enditem

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