Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is committed to finding a quick and peaceful resolution to the anti-pipeline blockades that have shut down swaths of the country’s train system and temporarily blocked bridges and highways.
The comments came Monday as Trudeau emerged from a closed-door meeting with members of his cabinet in Ottawa, where the Liberal government has been under growing pressure to end the blockades.
The prime minister, who said he had spoken to several premiers and Indigenous leaders, did not offer any specifics on how he and his government plan to deal with the crisis.
“I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many people and families across the country,” Trudeau said. “We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The meeting in Ottawa followed more than a week of protests against a natural-gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia and is opposed by the First Nation’s hereditary chiefs.
Those protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country that have ground large amounts of passenger and freight traffic to a halt.
Trudeau had been scheduled to travel to Barbados Tuesday to try to win Caribbean votes for Canada’s UN Security Council bid but cancelled the trip at the last minute to deal with the rail blockades.
He faced criticism last week over his presence in Africa and Europe as the protests were beginning, so Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne represented Canada in Trudeau’s place.