Blockades creating a mess for CN, shippers, and other carriers

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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CN yesterday reported financial results for Q1 2020.
Canadian National

FreightWaves is reporting that the blockades of much of Canadian National lines by those protesting a gas pipeline’s path through British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en territory is creating problems not only for CN, but other carriers as well. For example, the CEO of Montreal-based Energy Transportation Group, Shawn Girard, told his employees to begin looking for transportation substitutes for traffic that usually moves on the railroad.

Energy Transportation Group has been deluged with calls from shippers this week, looking for options to move not only metals and other industrial freight, but of food and alcohol as well.

Girard told FreightWaves that “We’ve been burning the candle at both ends.”

Large shipping lines have been impacted as well. For example, Hapag-Lloyd is thinking about diverting its ships from the Port of Halifax, while Atlantic Container Lines has already done so.

While the spark plug for the blockades was concerns over the pipeline moving through Wet’suwet’en territory, protesters are using the blockades to draw attention to concerns of indigenous Canadian people about larger social issues, such as not having proper control over the land in their territory and feeling as though they’ve been left out of the political process. About three-fourths of Canadians want the government to do a better job of looking after the interests of indigenous peoples, while two-thirds of Canadians are not in favor of the protests.

Regardless of one’s feelings about the labor and social issues driving strikes and blockades over the past several months, it is clear that CN has taken it on the chin, and resolution to the current situation is going to require Canadian government intervention.

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