'The government has a responsibility to act': Derek Burney on rail blockades
The federal government should take immediate action to resolve the rail blockades that have crippled Canada’s supply chains and resulted in the temporary layoffs of more than 1,000 rail workers, according to a former Canadian ambassador to the United States.
“If the government is not going to uphold the rule of law in the country, who is?” said Derek Burney, now a partner at Burney Investment Group, an investment advisory, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday. Burney served as an ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 under former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“I really believe that the government has a responsibility to act on this, not to talk, not for symbols, but to get involved directly. Get rid of the blockades,” Burney said.
His comments come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet reject demands from high-profile Conservative politicians to break up the blockades set up by protesters who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia.
Calls demanding an end to the blockades have mounted in recent days amid ongoing disruption to rail service in parts of the country which have resulted in temporary job cuts. On Tuesday, Canadian National Railway Co. said it is laying off 450 people as a result of the blockades. On Wednesday, Via Rail Canada said it is laying off more than 1,000 employees.
Burney added that the legality of the pipeline project has already been dealt with by courts and regulatory agencies.
“There’s never enough for a tiny minority in the community who want to block all progress on Coastal GasLink and other energy projects,” Burney said, referring to members of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
“So, I really think that we gotta get our act together. The government’s got to act because this not going to go away peacefully or patiently or through extensive dialogue. It takes concrete action.”
Burney made the remarks on BNN Bloomberg after writing an op-ed on the issue for the National Post, which was published Monday.
“I just decided that I had to say something that I could never say as a diplomat,” he said.