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Another protest in Vancouver as port feels impact of rail blockades
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver streets were again blocked by protest action Tuesday, with a group of demonstrators showing vocal solidarity with the hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. meeting on East Hastings Street.
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The group – which has previously blocked entrance to the Port of Vancouver, the intersection of Cambie Street and Broadway, and the Granville Street Bridge – as well as occupying the office of Attorney General David Eby and blocking rail traffic on the Pitt River Bridge – had not revealed what it had planned until Tuesday afternoon.
The group announced it would march east on Hastings, starting near Dunlevy Avenue. Demonstrators were seen blocking eastbound lanes in the area at 2:15 p.m.
Vancouver police appeared to be patrolling outside the Port of Vancouver and could be seen speaking with CP Rail staff early Tuesday afternoon.
Protest targets premier's home
The action in Metro Vancouver followed a widely criticized demonstration outside the Langford home of Premier John Horgan on Tuesday morning.
Activists with the group Extinction Rebellion blockaded the premier's driveway, with some lying down on the road and others holding signs on the street.
Horgan was not home when the protesters arrived but came home shortly after.
Several arrests were made.
The protest has been criticized by several politicians, including Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and interim Green Party leader Adam Olsen.
"There's a legitimate kind of protest in Canada which involves using the front lawn of the legislature or using signs outside ministries or courthouses," said Wilkinson. "That's the right way to go about it. The wrong way to go about it is to block intersections, to block railway tracks and especially to block private residences like a premier's home."
Tensions flare in Ottawa over rail blockades
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the ongoing protests over the pipeline project and the rail blockades across the country in the House of Commons Tuesday morning, but for some his response didn't go far enough.
Blockades in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose the natural gas pipeline project, are disrupting train traffic across the country.
The protests stopped CN Rail from transporting across the eastern rail network.
"We cannot resolve this alone," Trudeau told the House. "Just like we need Indigenous leaders to be partners, we also need Canadians to show both resolve and collaboration. Everyone has a stake in getting this right."
Trudeau said he is formally extending his government's hand in partnership and trust to Indigenous demonstrators.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was quick to attack the prime minister, calling his speech a "word salad."
"At least two key things were missing. A clear denunciation that the actions of these radical activists are illegal, and some kind of an action plan that would put an end to the illegal blockades and get our economy back on track," Scheer said.
An emergency debate will take place in Ottawa Tuesday during a special late-night sitting.
Impact at Port of Vancouver
The Port of Vancouver says that, due to disruption in rail operations and protest activity, the demand for anchorages at the port is exceeding the availability — and there is now a backlog of ships waiting to get in to port.
As of Tuesday morning, 48 ships remained at anchorage.
"We continue to see congestion and backlog within the supply chain, partly as a result of the rail disruptions and protest activity, and hope through discussions, a resolution can be reached soon," the port said in an email to CTV News.
"While we respect the right to a peaceful protest, the port authority has a legislated federal responsibility to ensure the safe and efficient movement of Canada's trade through the port."
On Monday, Feb. 10, dozens of protesters were arrested after blocking the port entrance at Hastings Street and Clark Drive with Vancouver police enforcing an injunction granted the night before.
With files from CTV News Vancouver Island, CTV News' Rachel Aiello and Rachel Gilmore, and The Canadian Press