Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this important issue.
As we know, rail transportation is deeply embedded in our nation's history. Rail has connected communities from coast to coast and allowed them to grow and prosper. The desire for greater connectivity was one of the drivers of Canadian Confederation, leaving an indelible mark on our shared history.
Efficient, effective and sustainable transportation is still the backbone of our economy today. It is the key to our economy's strength, enabling trade, supporting business, serving as an employer and enabling Canadians to get to their jobs. It is a marvel of interconnected modes of transportation working together. The rail sector employs thousands of Canadians with almost 37,000 employed by it and almost another 4,000 employed in support activities.
Every Canadian purchases, produces or eats something that travels by rail. Whether it is in the car they are driving, the grain our farmers work so hard to produce or the chlorine that is used by municipalities to provide drinking water, products that are transported by rail are as diverse as they are essential. Our manufacturers, farmers and other exporters need an efficient, resilient and reliable rail network. That is why we have said from the beginning that we needed a peaceful and quick resolution to the blockades.
Some people across the aisle wanted a rash and brutal intervention by our armed forces, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Acting in such a reckless way would have been creating a riskier environment for our railways, but also for rail workers and for businesses that depend on rail to get their products to market.
Our government has been working tirelessly and diligently on two fronts. The first is to meaningfully engage with indigenous communities and leaders in order to find both short-term and long-term solutions to the issues that first nations face both on and off reserves. The second is to mitigate the impact of Canadian blockades both on our economy and on Canadians themselves.
We have been working with the railways to ensure more goods reach communities, including essential commodities like propane and chlorine. We are also supportive of a safe rail transportation network. As we know, rail safety is the minister's top priority, and we have taken serious actions to reinforce the resiliency and safety of transportation over the past four years.
We have also warned that while the right to peaceful protest is fundamental in Canada, anyone who chooses to exercise this right must do so in accordance with the law. We have seen examples of illegal and very dangerous behaviour that could have dire consequences for the people carrying out these acts. Interfering with rail operations is both illegal and extremely dangerous.
In my time today, I have barely scratched the surface of how important Canada's rail system is to Canadians. The prosperity of our country depends on that rail network, and we will never stop working to improve it.