Injunction served to protesters blocking CN rail on Montreal's South Shore
News comes as B.C. RCMP offer to leave Wet'suwet'en territory on condition road is cleared
Authorities served protesters an injunction on Thursday evening, ordering the group to stop blocking a commuter train line on Montreal's South Shore.
Earlier in the day, Canadian National Railway (CN) announced it had obtained an injunction to dismantle a rail blockade that's been in place since about noon Wednesday on the Mont-Saint-Hilaire commuter train line near Saint-Lambert station.
In a statement, the company said it hoped for a swift resolution so passenger rail service can resume.
Shortly before authorities served documents to the protesters at around 7 p.m. ET, Longueuil police announced the temporary closure of Saint-Georges Street so protesters could leave safely. The street crosses the tracks near the blockade.
After handing documents to the group, authorities backed away, giving them space but staying within sight.
The road was reopened and several of the protesters remained. They took to social media, announcing the injunction had been served and asked people to join them in their effort to show solidarity with similar protests across the country.
"We continue to work with local police authorities to enforce these orders," said Olivier Quenneville, a CN spokesperson after the injunction was served.
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters earlier in the day that "we will dismantle the blockade" once the injunction is served.
He said Longueuil police would be in charge and use force if necessary.
Injunction filed Wednesday
CN filed the injunction in a courthouse in Longueuil, Que., on Wednesday, after the blockade was erected on the Mont-Saint-Hilaire commuter train line.
Lawyers for CN used an English model for the injunction, which must first be translated into French and brought to a judge before it can be served on the demonstrators.
This comes as the RCMP in British Columbia have offered to leave Wet'suwet'en territory if the road is made accessible to Coastal GasLink workers and community members, as talks to try and defuse the rail blockades across the country continue.
The group of protesters on the South Shore reacted to news of the injunction by calling for reinforcements on Twitter, asking supporters to "come join us in large numbers!"
About 50 protesters were on the site midday Thursday.
Montreal-area transit operator Exo had cancelled train service on the Mont-Saint-Hilaire line for the foreseeable future, saying that providing alternative transit options to everyone was not feasible "due to the shortage of buses and drivers in the metropolitan area," it said in a statement.
The Mont-Saint-Hilaire line is the second commuter train route to be disrupted in the greater Montreal region. A blockade in Kahnawake, on Montreal's South Shore, has forced Exo to cancel travel on its Candiac line since Feb. 10.
Legault said the Kahnawake blockade will not be dismantled by the Quebec government, because it is on Mohawk territory.
Tensions, support at blockade
Protester Pierre-Olivier Parent said it was important for him to be at the blockade near Saint-Lambert station to denounce the government's "support" of the oil and gas industry.
"I'm a white settler. I'm a construction worker," Parent said. "It's a huge issue.… It's not the Canada that I want to live in."
But tensions rose at the Saint-Lambert blockade early Thursday morning, when an unidentified man attempted to rip down parts of the blockade while swearing at protesters.
He said the protesters had no right to block the trains and tore the cord holding up protest banners on the tracks before leaving.
In the afternoon, protesters clashed with other civilians who were angry about the blockade.
It’s been mostly quiet today but there have been a few minor confrontations with protesters in St. Lambert. 5000 train users are waiting to find out when these tracks will be cleared. <a href="https://t.co/Bx3TfEqgXq">pic.twitter.com/Bx3TfEqgXq</a>—@TurnbullJay
But Marie-Thérèse Belanger, who lives nearby, said she supports the protesters and what they're trying to do. When she heard a blockade went up near her home, she went to the site to give her support.
"Someone has to stand up and talk, and if it doesn't work, this is what you have to do," she said. "I hope they'll win."
Belanger said she feels the whole situation comes down to money, and she's sick of the "blah, blah, blah" from people who "don't do anything."
"Everybody has to put their pants on," she said.
Protesters demand RCMP withdrawal
Parent, one of the protesters at the blockade, said that if the government wants to end the crisis, it should remove the RCMP from Wet'suwet'en and cancel permits for the natural gas pipeline.
He said he hopes the nationwide blockades show the government there is "a large solidarity" with the Wet'suwet'en nation.
"We see that people are being touched by the injustice ... and injustice to one is an injustice to all," he said.
"All our brothers from each nation, we need to stand together."
With files from Verity Stevenson and Jay Turnbull