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Protesters shut down eastern Ontario border


THOUSAND ISLANDS, Ont.—Protesters blocked access to a border crossing in eastern Ontario on Monday afternoon, closing down the Thousand Islands Bridge for several hours amid a national movement opposing a natural-gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.

The border point near Kingston, Ont., was shut down for roughly three hours, during which provincial police urged those planning to cross to the U.S. to find other routes in order to avoid the group of ralliers carrying a sign that read, “Shut Down Canada.”

The protesters were acting in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose a major pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northern British Columbia.

Another group of protesters shut down a border crossing between Niagara Falls, Ont., and Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Sunday, but left of their own accord in the late afternoon.

Other solidarity protests, including a rail blockade in Tyendinaga territory near Belleville, Ont., have shut down train service across Canada.

While CN Rail has obtained a court injunction asking police to remove the blockade, OPP have so far stayed out of it.

The force struck a similar tone in addressing the protest at the border.

“The OPP has no role to play in the underlying issues of the event and is not in a position to resolve them," spokeswoman Sgt. Carolle Dionne said in a written statement. She said the OPP respects "the right of everyone to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

“Protests and demonstrations are often complex in nature and qualitatively different from single-issue labour or political disputes," Dionne said. "Maintaining open and transparent relationships with all stakeholders is vital to maximize public safety.”

Meanwhile, Mounties in Manitoba said about eight to 10 demonstrators are at a CN crossing on Highway 75 in the southern part of the province. The highway and rail line both run south to the U.S. border crossing at Emerson, Man.

The RCMP said it was sending a specialized team to the site to “establish a dialogue” with the protesters.

CN said train movements in the area are stopped. “We are monitoring the situation and evaluating our legal options very closely,” the railway said in an email.w

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