Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked Wednesday what he had to say protesters who are halting trains, occupying buildings, stopping traffic, and demonstrating across the country.
He called the actions “an issue of concern,” and said he plans to address his cabinet about it.
“I’ve had regular briefings and updates, and will be speaking with ministers a little later today on exactly this issue. We recognize the important democratic right, and we will always defend it, of peaceful protest,” he said.
“This is an important part of our democracy in Canada, but we’re also a country of the rule of law and we need to make sure those laws are respected. That is why I will be – I am – encouraging all parties to dialogue, to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Trudeau stressed the rule of law again in response to a follow up question.
“Obviously, it’s extremely important to respect the right to freely demonstrate peacefully, but we need to make sure that the laws are respected and that’s why I’m going to be engaging with my ministers and looking at what possible next steps there are.”
The Prime Minister was in Senegal as part of an effort to secure African votes for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
He spoke at a joint news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall.
Canada has Senegal’s vote for the seat, according to Sall.
Trudeau also discussed human rights.
“I bring up human rights everywhere I go, every time I have an opportunity to speak with leaders or talk about Canadian values or Canadian approaches to the world,” Trudeau said. “In our conversations, of course I talk about human rights. We recognize there is always more work to do everywhere around the world.”
Protests continue developing, forcing the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to issue a statement Wednesday morning.
“From propane to grain and food and consumer items, Canada’s supply chains are being severely damaged by the continuing interruptions to Canada’s rail services by protestors,” the Chamber wrote.
“The rail system affects the entire Canadian economy and Canadians everywhere, including people trying to get to and from work. They must be allowed to continue to serve the thousands of businesses that depend on them.”
The Chamber called on “government and law enforcement to work together to bring an immediate end to the blockades and to restore all rail service.”
CN has obtained an injunction to stop a demonstration near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Another action near New Hazelton, B.C. is affecting all traffic in and out of ports in Prince Rupert and Kitimat.
Via Rail is cancelling departures until Thursday along its Montréal-Toronto and Toronto-Ottawa routes.
The company said 157 trains have been cancelled and 24 500 passengers impacted as of Tuesday morning.