Injunction was served at about 7 p.m. Thursday and Premier François Legault says it’s now the “job of police” to enforce it.
Protesters on the CN train tracks in St-Lambert said Thursday they had no intentions of leaving quietly.
“The government refuses to listen to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs,” an unnamed spokesperson said in a statement to media on Thursday. “We are fighting against a pipeline on their territory. The rails are blocked until further notice. The protectors of the water and Earth are called upon to block colonial powers on ports, bridges, roads, railways everywhere — now.”
Just before 7 p.m., the street was closed while police escorted a bailiff who delivered an injunction — a court order telling them their action is illegal. While CN had obtained the injunction in the morning, a Radio-Canada report said the document was only in English, so it had to be redrafted and approved by a judge. The street was closed for 15 minutes while the bailiff read the injunction to the protesters and handed out copies that he signed.
Earlier in the day, Quebec Premier François Legault said with an injunction served, it is now up to police to ensure it is respected.
“The injunction was obtained by CN; now, it is the job of police,” he told reporters during a scrum in Mirabel. “Obviously Longueuil police will probably confer with their colleagues from the Sûreté du Québec. It is their job now to enforce the law.”
Despite the court order to leave, the protesters remained on the tracks well into Thursday night. In a statement, CN called the protest illegal, saying there is now a court order to end the blockade.
“We continue to work with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders,” CN spokesperson Olivier Quenneville said.
Longueuil Police would not answer questions about the protest, saying the operation is being led by CN Police, and they are merely acting in a support role.
Legault had said earlier Thursday that Quebec is ready to move in and dismantle the St-Lambert railroad blockade.
“As soon as the injunction is granted, we will dismantle,” he said
Legault said the government feels having the police move in is legitimate because, unlike Kahnawake, the land in question is not considered Indigenous territory.
“Yes, there is a difference,” Legault said. “It is land that belongs to Quebec, it is not land that belongs to Indigenous Peoples.”
Asked to elaborate on the difference, Legault said: “In Kahnawake, technically it is the Peacekeepers who are responsible for applying the law, it is Indigenous lands,” Legault said. “Yes, there is a difference between the two.”
About 100 people were at the site of the tracks on St-Georges St. right near a rail yard that leads to the Victoria Bridge. They were camped out on the tracks, where a barrel fire and two tents keep them warm on the frigid February day. As of 6:30 p.m., that number had dwindled to about 50 people. Their main mode of communication is the Twitter handle mtlanticolonial, an account that follows a handful of anarchist and anti-capitalist groups. The group did not speak to reporters present and refused to answer questions beyond the prepared statement that they read in both official languages.
Some citizens slowed down to honk in support, while others hurled profanity at the blockade.
Though they’re flying the Iroquois Confederacy flag over the tracks, none have claimed to represent the Mohawks or any Indigenous nation.
Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C.
As freight trains idled a few hundred metres from the St-Lambert blockade, police made their presence known Thursday.
CN officers flanked the tracks in their cruisers alongside Longueuil police cars. In a nearby parking lot, Sûreté du Québec officers sat in two unmarked white vans. An SQ bus loaded with tactical gear waited behind a machine shop on St-Georges St.
Around 1 p.m., St-Lambert resident David Skitt engaged a handful of protesters in a terse but polite debate about the blockade.
“You’ve made your point, but you’re blocking billions of dollars of our economy,” he said, as TV news cameras captured the exchange. “Your brothers, your neighbours, your friends will lose their job if this continues. It’s unacceptable!”
Skitt says he supports the underlying grievances that have fuelled Indigenous resistance movements across the country, but believes this latest blockade goes too far.
“Sir, the Supreme Court recognized Wet’suwet’en sovereignty 23 years ago,” one protester said. “The RCMP is illegally occupying their territory.”
Skitt fired back, “Have you been on this Earth 23 years?”
Denis Bisson owns a factory with 20 employees that rely on raw materials brought by rail to do their job. He says the new blockade could force him to lay workers off starting next week.
“That’s 20 families they’re affecting,” said Bisson, standing next to the tracks. “You know, I support a lot of their demands, but this is a great way to alienate the public.”
Legault’s announcement that Quebec would dismantle the St-Lambert blockade follows a week of warnings from the government that its patience is running thin, given the effects the blockades are having on citizens and the economy.
Legault has also been putting pressure on the federal government to take action, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set a deadline for the end of negotiations and a lifting of the blockades.
Legault also participated in a conference call Wednesday with Canada’s 12 other premiers and territorial leaders. On Thursday, Legault said while there was no consensus among the premiers on his deadline idea, the group did participate in a conference call with Trudeau later Thursday.
“We are all worried,” Legault said. “We all have significant negative impacts on our economies. … There is a real urgency that this be settled, and particularly in Belleville, Ont.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau made it clear on the call that the government is looking at options to end the blockades as quickly as possible and reaching a peaceful and lasting resolution that builds trust and respect among all parties involved.
It said the federal government is working closely with the B.C. government and will continue working closely with all the premiers.
“Prime Minister Trudeau noted the RCMP’s offer to withdraw its operations from Wet’suwet’en territory, and the ongoing offer made by Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs while they are in Ontario and Quebec to address both urgent and longer term issues, following the Prime Minister’s letter to them,” the readout of the call says.
The traditional leaders of the B.C. first nation, who oppose a natural-gas pipeline project in their territory, are expected to visit Mohawks at Tyendinaga in Ontario and Kahnawake, south of Montreal. There has been a blockade on the CP train tracks in Kahnawake for more than two weeks.
Via Rail train service partially returned to to the Montreal-Ottawa route on Thursday, but the Montreal-Quebec City route has been shut down until Sat., Feb. 22 and the Montreal-Toronto route is only slated to reopen on Mon., Feb. 24. As of Thursday, 647 trains had been cancelled because of the blockades. More than 117,000 passengers have been affected.
With files from Canadian Press.
Commercial fishers and wild salmon advocates cheer large returns to B.C. waters
VICTORIA — The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be a bumper season for both pink and sockeye salmon in British Columbia rivers, with one veteran Indigenous fisherman reporting the biggest catches of sockeye in decades.
Mitch Dudoward has worked in the salmon industry for more than 40 years, and says fishing on the Skeena River in northwest B.C. has never been better.
“This is the best season I can recall in my lifetime with the numbers we are catching,” said Dudoward, who recently completely a big sockeye haul aboard his gillnetter Irenda.
Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the Indigenous-led First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, meanwhile said that thousands of pink salmon are in Central Coast rivers after years of minimal returns.
The strong run comes two years after the closure of two open-net Atlantic salmon farms in the area.
“We had targeted those farms,” said Chamberlin, whose group wants open-net farms removed from B.C.’s waters. “We got them removed and two years later we went from 200 fish in the river to where we have several thousand to date. In our mind and knowledge that is a really clear indicator.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada spokeswoman Lara Sloan said departmental observations indicated big returns of sockeye to the Skeena River.
“Test fisheries currently indicate that Skeena sockeye returns are tracking at the upper end of the forecast, with an in-season estimate of approximately four million sockeye,” said Sloan in a statement. “Sockeye populations returning to a number of areas in British Columbia, Washington and Alaska are returning better than forecast in 2022.”
The five-year average return of sockeye to the Skeena is 1.4 million and the 10-year average is 1.7 million, Sloan said.
Dudoward said the Skeena sockeye season ended this week, but it could have gone on longer.
“We should be fishing until the end of August when the sockeye stop running,” he said. “There’s plenty of them to take.”
But Sloan said the Fisheries Department was being careful about salmon stocks.
“For 2022, the department is taking a more precautionary approach toward managing impacts of commercial fisheries on stocks of conservation concern including smaller wild sockeye populations, chum and steelhead returning to the Skeena River,” she said.
The Fisheries Department also expects a large sockeye run to the Fraser River this summer, but returns of chinook, coho and chum to northern and Central Coast rivers and streams are expected to be low.
“The forecast range for Fraser River sockeye in 2022 is 2.3 million to 41.7 million, with a median forecast of 9.7 million,” said Sloan. “The median forecast means there is a 50 per cent chance returns will come in below that level.”
That is well above the estimated 2.5 million sockeye returns in 2021, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada data.
The strong returns come amid debate over the future of open-net salmon farming in B.C. waters.
In 2018, the B.C. government, First Nations and the salmon farming industry reached an agreement to phase out 17 open-net farms in the Broughton Archipelago between 2019 and 2023.
The agreement was negotiated to establish a farm-free migration corridor to help reduce harm to wild salmon.
In June, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray said the government will consult with First Nations communities and salmon farm operators in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River on Vancouver Island, about the future of open-net farming in the area.
A final decision on the future of the farms is expected in January 2023, the minister said.
“That is such a key migratory route of all Fraser River salmon, in particular coho and chinook,” Chamberlin said. “If we are going to see Fraser runs return, we need to see removal of impediments.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Montreal-based WSP Global to buy U.K. environmental consulting company in third takeover in just three months – The Globe and Mail
Canadian engineering giant WSP Global Inc. WSP-T is buying British environmental consulting firm RPS Group Plc in a deal worth almost a billion dollars, its third major takeover in just three months.
Montreal-based WSP said it struck a deal Monday to acquire RPS for £2.06 per share in cash for a total enterprise value of £625-million, or $975-million. It is paying 15 times RPS’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the 12 months ended June 30.
“RPS is of utmost value to WSP for its sustainability focus, global presence, expertise and talent,” WSP chief executive Alexandre L’Heureux told analysts on a conference call after markets closed. The takeover of RPS’s 5,000 employees brings additional scale to WSP and advances its efforts to expand its front-end consulting work, he said.
Demand for environmental engineering and consulting services is growing as private-sector companies and governments seek advice on things ranging from climate-change risks to waste management. WSP is beefing up its capabilities in the space as part of a wider growth effort.
This is the company’s third major takeover in as many months. In June, it said it had struck a definitive agreement to acquire a business known as Environment & Infrastructure (E&I) from Aberdeen, Scotland-based Wood for US$1.8-billion, adding another 6,000 employees to its payroll. Earlier this month, WSP said it would buy Capita Plc’s Capita REI and GL Hearn businesses in the U.K. for £60-million in a smaller deal that adds skill in real estate planning.
Once a boutique engineering company, WSP has ballooned in recent years to become a major player in global design consultancy and project management, with a current market capitalization topping $18-billion. Mr. L’Heureux wants to expand the company further. He outlined a three-year strategic plan this March that aims to boost net revenues 30 per cent to well over $10-billion a year and increase adjusted net earnings per share by 50 per cent by 2024.
WSP said it secured a new bank credit facility worth £600-million (about $935-million), including commitments for the full amount of the RPS purchase price, in order to meet British takeover regulations. But it intends to use the proceeds from share sales to fund the takeover.
The company said it will sell $400-million worth of equity in a bought deal with a syndicate of underwriters led by CIBC Capital Markets, National Bank Financial and RBC Capital Markets. It will raise another $400-million in a private placement with three existing WSP shareholders: Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
London Stock Exchange-listed RPS generates about two-thirds of its revenue from environmental work and water services and has longstanding relationships with major water utilities in the U.K. and Ireland, Mr. L’Heureux said. It has also developed a deep expertise in oceanic science, which it uses to support offshore wind energy players, he added.
RPS’s board intends to recommend the deal, WSP said. The Canadian company said it has the backing of directors and other shareholders holding about 18 per cent of RPS stock.
WSP is one of the most active companies in Canadian infrastructure megaprojects – involved in the development of 18 of the 20 biggest projects currently under way, according to trade publication ReNew Canada. This latest takeover would bring its total employee count to 70,000 and boost revenue to $10-billion a year on a pro-forma basis.
The engineering firm’s recent contracts illustrate the kind of work it is now bidding on as it tries to reshape itself as one of the world’s top companies with environmental expertise. In Canada, it won a mandate from pension fund PSP Investments to conduct a detailed climate analysis of more than three million hectares of farmland and timberland in its Global Natural Resources Portfolio.
In the United States, WSP was awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management for the underground storage of the Aces Delta project, the largest green hydrogen production and storage facility ever built. WSP says the facility will help decarbonize the Western U.S. power grid by providing seasonal clean energy storage capabilities.
WSP shares rose 0.8 per cent in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, closing at $157.58. The stock is down 16 per cent since hitting an all-time high of $187.94 last November.
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Fairfax offering to buy chain that owns Swiss Chalet, Harvey's and The Keg for $1.2B – CBC News
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has proposed taking Recipe Unlimited Corp. private in the latest phase for the almost 140-year-old restaurant company.
The deal announced by Recipe Unlimited Tuesday puts a $1.2 billion value on Canada’s oldest and largest full-service restaurant chain, which counts Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and The Keg among its roughly two-dozen brands.
Fairfax is already the controlling shareholder of Recipe Unlimited, owning 38.5 per cent of the equity interest as of the end of last year for about 61 per cent of the voting rights.
The other major shareholder is Cara Holdings Ltd., the holding company of the Phelan family, which would continue as an investor in the company once it goes private.
Recipe Unlimited first went public in 1968, then known as CARA for the first two letters of Canadian Railway, which links back to the company’s original founding in 1883 as the Canada Railway News Co. that catered to railway travellers.
Cara Holdings Ltd. took the company private again in 2004 and in 2013 Fairfax made a deal to bring several restaurants including East Side Mario’s and Casey’s into the company’s portfolio before the company relisted publicly in 2015.
The deal announced Tuesday would see a group of Fairfax affiliates acquire all outstanding shares, except for some shares held by Cara Holdings, at $20.73 in cash.
The offer price represents a 53.4 per cent premium to Recipe Unlimited’s closing price on Aug. 8, according to a company statement. Recipe, however, was trading at about $21 a share as recently as last November before it started declining along with the wider market, and traded above $36 a share in its first year of returning to the market in 2015.
The deal requires the approval of most of the minority shareholders and Recipe Unlimited says its board intends to recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the proposed transaction at a special meeting of shareholders to be held on the matter.
The deal comes only a few days after Fairfax said it and partners were also taking private U.K.-based Atlas Corp., which owns the Seaspan shipping company and APR Energy.
The Atlas deal has Fairfax and partners buying shares at $14.45, which represents a 32.1 per cent premium over the 30 day average closing price on the New York Stock Exchange, but is in line with where the company was trading in late March.
Recipe shares have been under pressure during the pandemic as it had been forced to close in-restaurant dining at many locations.
The company has seen sales rebound lately as restrictions ease, reporting last week that its system sales were up 55 per cent to $873 million. Recipe Unlimited had 1,223 restaurants at the end of the quarter, down from 1,330 last year.
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