OTTAWA (NEWS1130) – Canadian Pacific says negotiations with its striking employees have stalled.

The railway company says that the mediator withdrew Sunday afternoon leaving the door open for the government to table legislation to end the five-day old strike.

Earlier, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt had said she was still hopeful the two parties could show progress, but that she would not wait long.

Raitt warned last week that the government is prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation as early as Monday if CP and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – which represents workers at CP as well as employees at Canadian National Railway (TSX:CN) can’t reach a deal.

Raitt signalled her intention to introduce back to work legislation last week and is now in position to table it on Monday. She says she will likely decide at midnight whether to table legislation when the House resumes tomorrow, adding with the Canadian economy still fragile, the country cannot afford a prolonged strike.

About 4,800 unionized CP employees - engineers, conductors and other workers – walked off the job Wednesday, halting the company’s freight train service across the country. The job action is costing close to $500 million to the Canadian economy.

Here in BC, the on-going strike is costing millions of dollars to our local economy each day.

Port Metro Vancouver is the busiest port in the province. The port’s Peter Xotta says things are already very backed up.

“You can imagine as you take 50 per cent of your rail capacity and idle it, it doesn’t take very long before goods are not going to be getting to the market they’re intended to.”

Xotta adds the port handles about $200 million worth of goods everyday.

“If you could imagine that CP is fully 50 per cent of that which is handled by rail, it’s approaching $100 million a day of goods that are being delayed or somehow disrupted in getting to the market.”

Xotta wants the strike resolved as quickly as possible, but admits even when it’s resolved, it will be weeks until everything is back to normal.