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OTTAWA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Canadian government is deeply concerned about protests by aboriginal activists that are blocking some railway lines and hitting the shipment of key supplies, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Friday.
Indigenous communities opposed to the construction of a gas pipeline project in British Columbia started interrupting rail traffic last week. Canadian National Railway Co, the country's biggest railroad operator, is shutting operations in Eastern Canada as a result.
"I am deeply concerned about protests that deliberately prevent the operation of railways through illegal activity," Garneau told a televised news conference in Toronto.
"It is about people's jobs and livelihoods and about the transport of key supplies like food, propane, heating oil and chemicals for water treatment, (and) agricultural products for export," he said.
Garneau said Ottawa felt the way to end the blockades was "through dialog and seeking to build consensus" with the aboriginal groups, many of whom complain they are marginalized and economically deprived.
He noted that one blockade in the British Columbia had already been lifted, thereby reopening transport links to the port of Prince Rupert. (Reporting by David Ljunggren and Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa Editing by Alistair Bell)