QUEBEC — Premier François Legault says Quebec is ready to move in and dismantle the freshly installed St-Lambert railroad blockade.
“There was an injunction requested,” Legault told reporters. “As soon as the injunction is granted we will dismantle.”
About an hour after Legault’s remarks, a CN spokesperson confirmed to the Montreal Gazette that the railway had obtained an injunction to clear the tracks in St-Lambert but would not comment further on the situation.
But Legault said the government feels having the police move in is legitimate because unlike Kahnawake, the land in question is not considered Indigenous territory.
“Yes, there is a difference,” Legault said. “It is land that belongs to Quebec, it is not land that belongs to Indigenous peoples.”
He said it will be up to local police force to apply the injunction.
Asked to elaborate on the difference, Legault said.
“In Khanwahake, technically it is the Peacekeepers who are responsible for applying the law, it is indigenous lands,” Legault said. “Yes there is a difference bweteen the two.
Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C.
In St-Lambert, there were about 25 people, many wearing masks, at the blockade on Thursday morning. None were speaking to media at the scene. There are two tents at the site and a campfire.
There is a heavy police presence around the barricade, which is blocking at least two Canadian National trains. Commuter train service on that line was also cancelled Thursday.
On Twitter, the organizers said they had not yet been served with an injunction. They called for reinforcements to join them.
Legault’s announcement follows a week of warnings from the government that its patience is running thin given the effects the blockades are having on citizens and the economy.
Legault has also been putting pressure on the federal government to take action, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set a deadline for the end of negotiations and a lifting of the blockades.
Legault also participated in a conference call Wednesday with Canada’s 12 other premiers and territorial leaders. On Thursday, Legault said while there was no consensus among the premiers on his deadline idea, the group did agree to ask for a conference call with Trudeau later Thursday.
“We are all worried,” Legault said. “We all have significant negative impacts on our economies. He (Trudeau) has to explain to us his plan to get us out of this crisis. There is a real urgency that this be settled, and particularly in Belleville, Ontario.”
Later, Quebec’s opposition parties exerted their rights to call for an emergency debate over the blockade crisis in the legislature.
The debate will last most of the day.
Christopher Curtis of the Montreal Gazette contributed to this report.