Sean Finn, CN rail’s executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer, is thanking customers, including farmers, for their patience in the wake of a rail shipping backlog.
His message to the protesters, whose blockades added to the backlog, is their actions put themselves and CN staff in danger.
Several times CN trains came upon blockades without warning, Finn said in a telephone interview March 5. Fortunately they were able to stop in time.
Protesters also climbed on tank cars in CN yards. The cars could’ve started moving at any time resulting in injury or death.
“We’re relieved nobody was hurt,” he said.
The blockades were in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs seeking to stop TC Energy Corp.’s Coastal GasLink pipeline from being built across their land. But CN rail shipments were already behind because of mudslides and a week-long strike by CN conductors.
“There is a substantial backlog and it’s going to take several weeks to clean up,” Finn said.
This crop year CN has shipped about one million tonnes less grain than a year ago, he added.
Finn also noted its Agricultural Advisory Council is calling on the federal and provincial governments and grain industry, “to support Canada’s agriculture industry by demonstrating leadership that ensures reliable network operations in the future.”
Still, there are signs of recovery. As of the end of week 30 (Feb. 29) CN had spotted 5,600 grain cars across the Prairies, up almost 1,400 cars from the same week a year ago.