In an attempt to prevent trucker convoy demonstrations that have delayed a crucial border crossing in the province, Ontario has declared a state of emergency.
Anti-mandate protesters have set up a barrier at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, causing considerable traffic and trade problems. Premier Doug Ford announced the action on Friday.
“While these emergency orders will only be in effect for a short time, we want to introduce new legislation that will make these provisions permanent in law.” At a press conference at Queen’s Park, Ford said, “We are taking the steps necessary to help our police while they do what it takes to restore law and order.”
The state of emergency will make it illegal and punishable to block and stop the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.
“This will include protecting international border crossings, 400-series highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways. It will also include protecting the safe and essential movement of ambulatory and medical services, public transit, municipal and provincial roadways, as well as pedestrian walkways,” Ford said.
Anyone who doesn’t comply, could face a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment.
Ford also said that the order provides law enforcement with additional authority to take away personal and commercial licenses of anyone who doesn’t comply.
The premier noted that the government does not direct police forces but sets the laws in the province.
“This (order) will not impede the rights of Ontarians to peacefully protest. It will provide additional tools to help stop the illegal occupation of Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor,” Ford said.
Crowds of semi-trailer trucks and pickup trucks have been stationed at the Windsor end of the border crossing since Monday, closing off both directions of a street that connects with the bridge.
The Ambassador Bridge is one of North America’s busiest international commercial border crossings.
The blockade is one of several demonstrations happening in the province and country over COVID-19 restrictions, including one in Ottawa that started two weeks ago.
Ford is calling the demonstrations an “illegal occupation” as some groups of protesters are trying to “force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation and chaos.”
He said that in Ottawa the protest has devolved into a “siege” and needs to end.
“My message to those still in Ottawa, to those at our border crossings, please go home. To those of you who have brought your children, please take them home. I urge you, it’s time to leave and it’s time to do so peacefully.”
Yesterday, the Ford government successfully petitioned a court to freeze access to millions of dollars donated through GiveSendGo for the protests.
The authorities obtained a Superior Court of Justice injunction prohibiting anyone from sharing donations received through the website’s “Freedom Convoy 2022” and “Adopt-a-Trucker” campaign pages.
Meanwhile, an application for an injunction to prohibit protesters from obstructing the Ambassador Bridge is expected to be heard today by an Ontario Superior Court justice.
The injunction was requested by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, and the City of Windsor was granted intervenor status.
Source_ The Canadian Press