One-on-one with Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix
Cenovus Inc. Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix said recent rail blockades in protest of the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline could have a significant impact on the Canadian economy.
“If [the blockade] continues, it will have a massive impact on the economy,” Pourbaix told BNN Bloomberg in a Wednesday interview.
“Shutting down the country’s ports, shutting down highways, whatever; this is really ridiculous behaviour.”
The protests – which began last Thursday – followed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s enforcement of a court injunction against some members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who were attempting to block the pipeline’s construction through its traditional territory.
The blockade has left more than 150 freight trains idle in both Ontario and British Columbia, according to The Canadian Press. Canadian National Railway Co., the country’s largest railway, warned Tuesday that it would have to close “significant” parts of its network unless blockades on its rail lines were removed.
Pourbaix described the GasLink protesters as representing a “vanishingly-small percentage of the Canadian population.” Pourbaix added that some activists who have participated in anti-oil campaigns are “usually paid, often foreign,” without speaking specifically to the present blockade.
He also said the federal and provincial governments must find a solution that allows peaceful protest to occur without major disruptions to goods being transported across the country.
“I think all of us fully support the right of people to protest, and to peacefully protest, but that can not get in the way of the economy of the country,” Pourbaix said.
“And I think it’s really important that the governments have a plan and execute on a plan to get us back to having all of this infrastructure operating.”