Battlefords Chamber expresses concerns about rail blockades

The Battlefords Chamber of Commerce will be among the many chamber branches sending a letter to federal officials regarding the rail blockades happening in Canada.

Battlefords Chamber Chief Operating Officer Linda Machniak told directors at the chamber’s monthly board meeting Tuesday that their office received a policy alert from the national Chamber last week, asking “all of us” to get involved in a letter-writing campaign on the issue.

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The national chamber’s request was for the local chamber to send a letter to their Member of Parliament.

“Their concerns are that the rail blockades are hurting the Canadian economy and hurting Canadian business,” said Machniak. She noted that CN Rail had announced layoffs of 450 people that day and more was coming. 

The blockades have been staged in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation over the last several days, and have prompted an emergency debate in Parliament.

This week the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce received a letter template from the Canadian Chamber directed at the Ministry of Transport and Minister of Science and Technology.

Machniak also mentioned another letter directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made public earlier that day. That correspondence, dated Feb. 18, was signed by representatives of 34 different organizations across Canada including national Chamber president and CEO Perrin Beatty. 

“Our member companies collectively employ millions of Canadians from every region and every industrial sector of the economy. We call on your government to work urgently with the provinces and territories, Indigenous leaders and law enforcement authorities to bring an end to the ongoing disruptions and restore normal services without further delay,” the letter stated.

“… The damage inflicted on the Canadian economy and on the welfare of all our citizens mounts with each hour that these illegal disruptions are allowed to continue. Each additional day rail lines are disrupted requires three to four days for supply chains to recover. This is why it is imperative that the Government act now to get the Canadian economy moving again.”

The indication from Tuesday’s meeting is that the Battlefords chamber will go ahead with sending a letter of their own outlining their concerns.

“It’s our duty as a chamber especially representing business that we show our support,” said Chair Harris Sutherland at the meeting.

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