Ont. judge orders First Nation blockade on railway line to be taken down

SARNIA, Ont. – An Ontario judge has ruled that a nearly two-week long First Nation blockade of a railway line in Sarnia, Ont., must come down by 6 p.m. tonight.

Lawyers for CN Rail have launched court action against Ron Plain, a member of the Aamjiwnaang (AWN’-ja-nong) First Nation, alleging that he is in contempt of an injunction to disband the protests on the railway tracks.

The court injunctions were issued on Dec. 21 and 27 and granted police the power to end the blockade to their discretion.

CN also filed a motion for Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson to appear Wednesday before a judge to explain what the force was doing about the protest.

Protesters with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation set up the blockade last month to denounce the federal government’s omnibus Bill C-45, which they claim eliminates treaty and aboriginal rights set out in the Constitution.

The group alleges the railway tracks were not laid down legitimately.

Reached following his court appearance, Plain said that there were no plans to disband the blockade.

He said instead, the group of about 25 demonstrators were planning a “celebration party” to commemorate their efforts.

Plain has been scheduled to return to court on Friday.

The Sarnia blockade is one of several actions being taken across the country as part of an aboriginal movement known as Idle No More.

The First Nation vows to continue with the action until Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Attiwapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike in Ottawa since Dec. 11.

Spence hopes that her strike will bring attention to aboriginal issues and secure her a meeting with Harper and the Governor General.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says talks have been continuing between the community, the police and the protesters.

Although he is hopeful for a peaceful resolution, he admits he is worried about the patience for the blockade running out.

“As every day goes by, concern about tensions is rising because there is an economic impact. It’s having a negative impact here on industry,” said Bradley.

“We can only go so long without using that rail line so that’s a concern.”

The Sarnia police have previously said its officers will not disband the blockade unless it poses a safety risk.

— By Linda Nguyen in Toronto