Quebec premier says protests cost $100 million a day
|Toronto Star 21 Feb 2020 at 13:59|
Quebec Premier Francois Legault estimated that the blockades are causing losses for Canada’s second-most populated province of about $100 million a day. Canadian National Railway Co. and some manufacturers have started temporary layoffs, while the Montreal port is facing some congestion, he said.
“It’s like a signal is being sent,” he told reporters in remarks broadcast by RDI channel. “In the future, will boats go unload merchandise in Northeast U.S. ports rather than come to Montreal? It’s not good for the economy and these are considerable damages.”
Protesters have blocked tracks on two commuter lines outside of Montreal. CN said it has obtained a court injunction to break up one near Saint-Lambert, south of the city, though it hasn’t been enforced yet.
It’s now up to the police to decide how to intervene, Legault said.
The premier indicated that he considered the dismantling of a blockade in Saint-Lambert legitimate because protesters weren’t on First Nations land, in contrast with another blockade that’s in Kahnawake territory.
Trudeau meeting with ministers
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with the top ministers involved in the crisis in Ottawa on Friday morning, a day after the government portrayed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s offer to withdraw from the Wet’suwet’en protest site in northern British Columbia as an olive branch. He’s planning to speak to the nation on the issue at a press conference in the afternoon.
“We are gathering the incident-response group this morning to continue discussions, negotiations,” Trudeau said as he went into the meeting. “Dialogue is continuing hour by hour.”
Trudeau said he’ll make another statement this afternoon in Ottawa.
RBC doesn’t see significant impact from blockades
Calls for vigilante actions against Wet’suwet’en blockades are growing in far-right circles, anti-hate group says
Rod Bolger, Royal Bank of Canada chief financial officer, said the bank hasn’t yet seen significant impacts from issues such as the coronavirus and the Canadian rail blockades.
“It’s early days on some of them, especially here in North America,” Bolger said in an interview. “You haven’t seen a significant impact yet on a broader spectrum. You are starting to see some impacts to some supply chains, and there is concern over that, but we don’t want confidence to be impaired unnecessarily, so I think it’s important that everyone keep an eye on this — and we’re keeping an eye on this — but not overreact.”
Asked if he was talking specifically about coronavirus or blockades, he replied, “Anything that provides consternation out there in the marketplace.”