Via Rail extends train cancellations between Ottawa and Toronto to Friday

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Via Rail has extended train cancellations on major routes in Ontario and Quebec as protests against a pipeline in northern B.C. stretched into a sixth-day on Wednesday, forcing slowdowns on a major downtown road in Ottawa.

Passenger and freight rail services have been hit particularly hard by the protests as demonstrators erect barricades on lines in different parts of the country.

Via Rail is cancelling service on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes until at least the end of the day on Friday because of a blockade near Belleville. Service along the Ottawa-Montreal corridor remains active.

Protests also blocked traffic for roughly an hour in Ottawa’s downtown core Wednesday evening. Demonstrators amassed on Wellington Street before moving east to block the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive.

Meanwhile, two hereditary chiefs from the British Columbia First Nation that is getting support from protesters across the country have launched a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects.

The challenge calls on the Federal Court to declare that Canada is constitutionally obliged to meet international climate change targets, which the chiefs contend would cancel approvals for a natural gas pipeline that runs through traditional Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C.

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.

The blockades were erected after the RCMP enforced a court injunction last week against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of a $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project.