Freedom Convoy truckers 'hold the line' and continue to block access on Ontario bridge

Freedom Convoy truckers ‘hold the line’ and continue to block access on Ontario bridge

Freedom Convoy truckers have returned to the site of the six-day standoff and have continued to ‘hold the line’ on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor in order to block access on the Canadian side after being cleared away earlier by police following a lengthy demonstration. 

Demonstrations across Canadian cities have been implemented in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s order for the country’s truckers to be vaccinated or quarantine after returning from the US. 

The tense standoff at the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, eased somewhat early in the day when Canadian police persuaded demonstrators to move the trucks they had used to barricade the entrance to the busy international crossing.

Protestors, however, made their return as they were seen blocking the bridge yet again on Saturday night.

Other cities including Ottawa also faced an influx of protestors as around 4,000 had been reported by police. 

Officials with the Ottawa police initially communicated to protestors earlier on Saturday to threaten arrests and fines if they did not clear the scene by midnight.

A Canadian judge also previously asked the protestors to move by 7pm but failed to get them out. 

In addition, other demonstrators have also blocked borders to the Canadian province of Manitoba at the Emerson Port of Entry, which is shared with North Dakota as well as Coutts Crossing in Alberta, which brings truckers into and out of Montana. 

The problems have fed into current issues linked to the supply chain crisis as a shortage in auto parts have caused vehicle companies to temporarily shut down. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has since announced she is preparing to deal with the disruptions related to the protest.

This comes ahead of a planned protest at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ontario, that connects the southern region of the province to Buffalo.   

Protestors continued their demonstration on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario after initially being told to clear off by police

Protestors continued their demonstration on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario after initially being told to clear off by police

A truck is seen passing Ontario Provincial Police officers and demonstrators in opposition of the COVID-19 mandates on the Toronto-bound QEW highway after crossing the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie on Saturday

A truck is seen passing Ontario Provincial Police officers and demonstrators in opposition of the COVID-19 mandates on the Toronto-bound QEW highway after crossing the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie on Saturday

A man carrying a lacrosse stick walks toward the protest as truckers and supporters are being moved back by the police as they continue blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge

A man carrying a lacrosse stick walks toward the protest as truckers and supporters are being moved back by the police as they continue blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge

The demonstrations on the Ambassador Bridge have been targeting vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions

The demonstrations on the Ambassador Bridge have been targeting vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions

Protesters confront Ontario police officials as they try to clear the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge

Protesters confront Ontario police officials as they try to clear the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen speaking out about the protests after setting the vaccine mandate and COVID protocols for the nation's truckers

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen speaking out about the protests after setting the vaccine mandate and COVID protocols for the nation’s truckers

Protestors are seen waving flags toward the Peace Bridge during a rally in Buffalo

Protestors are seen waving flags toward the Peace Bridge during a rally in Buffalo

Another Buffalo protestor is seen waving an American flag on top of a vehicle

Another Buffalo protestor is seen waving an American flag on top of a vehicle

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced she was preparing for a similar protest between Ontario and the US city of Buffalo

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced she was preparing for a similar protest between Ontario and the US city of Buffalo

There have been organized convoys around the country with border control problems in other provinces including Manitoba and Alberta

There have been organized convoys around the country with border control problems in other provinces including Manitoba and Alberta

Other problem areas include the city of Ottawa, the Emerson border crossing in Manitoba and the Coutts crossing in Alberta

Other problem areas include the city of Ottawa, the Emerson border crossing in Manitoba and the Coutts crossing in Alberta

More than 12 hours after Freedom Convoy trucks cleared the Ambassador Bridge, a crowd of Canadians, many on foot, were continuing to “hold the line” into Saturday night.

Marco Filice, 37, saw his hometown of Winslow overtaken last week by truckers who blocked off the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, and said he feels proud to take over where they left off.

‘I came here for the first time with my three kids, wanting them to see that we’re Canadians, and if we don’t agree with things, we can go protest and let people know that we disagree with what’s happening around here, with our freedoms being taken away,’ Filice told DailyMail.com.

‘Windsor’s been very quiet and, to be honest, my patriotism was at an all-time low lately,’ he added. ‘It’s like we were just waiting for someone to stand up. And the truckers stood up for us. And my patriotism is now at an all-time high.

‘To see all these people coming here. This is my neighborhood. I love it. It just shows that we’re willing to stop the economy to fight for our freedoms.’

Officers in black uniforms with yellow safety vests descended on the scene around 8.30 a.m., and slowly moved in earlier in the day, but then paused.

As temperatures plummeted into the evening, hundreds of protesters roamed the roadway leading toward the bridge, many bundled up in Canadian flags. 

They were getting no real pushback from police, despite official threats of arrest.

‘I know what the plan was this morning, but I don’t what the plan is now,’ an Ontario Provincial Police officer told DailyMail.com, standing idly by.

A few dozen officers held their own line, keeping protesters a couple blocks from the bridge itself. Many wore military-style gear and stood ominously alongside armored vehicles, with several officers monitoring from adjacent rooftops.

But there was no police action as of 7 p.m., and the two sides could be seen chatting amiably.

Protestors gather in Queen's Park in Toronto for a second week in opposition of COVID measures

Protestors gather in Queen’s Park in Toronto for a second week in opposition of COVID measures

Thousands of protestors also flocked in the capital city of Ottawa

Thousands of protestors also flocked in the capital city of Ottawa 

A Toronto protestor holds a sign reading 'United for the rights and freedoms of future generations'

A Toronto protestor holds a sign reading ‘United for the rights and freedoms of future generations’ 

Other protestors are seen gathering on the streets of Toronto

Other protestors are seen gathering on the streets of Toronto

A veteran supporter holds a sign in Ottawa reading 'Trudeau stop lying and hating'

A veteran supporter holds a sign in Ottawa reading ‘Trudeau stop lying and hating’

Demonstrators are seen in a hot tub between trucks during the protest

Demonstrators are seen in a hot tub between trucks during the protest

One protester, Sianna Berlinghoff, 16, was shivering in a pair of ripped jeans when an officer handed her a pair of heating packs, which she placed over her knees.

‘It feels so much better,’ Berlinghoff said. ‘I wasn’t expecting that. That’s actually pretty cool. I’m glad they’re not being all in our face and stuff.’

A demonstrator named Eric found himself debating the merits of the protest with Officer S. Myers, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

‘There’s $20 million in an hour of goods that cross that border,’ the officer told Eric, arguing about the financial impact of the blockade. ‘That’s a big deal.

‘My defense is that there are people that haven’t worked in two years and have lost their jobs,’ Eric replied. ‘Much longer than this blockade here now.’

‘The other side of that coin,’ the officer shot back, ‘is that those people who got their jobs back may get laid off again because of this.

They’ll say, well, we’ve already suffered two years and now you’re going to make us suffer more?’

Eric spoke about two buddies who lost jobs, and claimed his grandmother got a stroke from the vaccine and that he couldn’t visit her because of Covid restrictions.

‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ the officer replied.

Michelle Neil, 34, drove five hours to join the protest.

‘The Canadians are finally standing up for our rights and saying, enough is enough,’ she told DailyMail.com. 

‘We’re done with the shots, we’re done with the mandates, we’re done with the restrictions everywhere. If we need to be restricted, then we’ll restrict the rest of the world. 

‘We’re standing up, blocking everything, so the government can actually see we’re done.’

Truckers and their supporters continue to block the border in Emerson, Manitoba

Truckers and their supporters continue to block the border in Emerson, Manitoba

A truck clad with Canadian and American flags sits at the border in protest of the mandate

A truck clad with Canadian and American flags sits at the border in protest of the mandate

One of the signs reads: 'No more mandates. Freedom'

One of the signs reads: ‘No more mandates. Freedom’

Another sign reads: 'End All Mandates'

Another sign reads: ‘End All Mandates’

At the same time, she said, ‘We’re trying to be peaceful.’

‘I want my teenage-hood back,’ Berlinghoff, the 16-year-old, told DailyMail.com. ‘The last two years I haven’t been able to do anything I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. I couldn’t even celebrate my sweet 16.’

Ryan Gold, 36, of Sarnia, Ontario, was bundled up in his camouflage bow hunting gear.

‘The other side says you’re blocking the bridge and impeding people’s ability to make a living,’ he said. 

‘Well the way I see it, after the last two years, this is just fighting fire with fire. We could stand on the side of the road and nobody’s going to listen.

‘But when you actually hit them where it hurts, in the wallet, then they’re going to listen to you.

‘I don’t know how this is going to end,’ he added, ‘but it’s great to see everybody coming together. 

‘I just hope that our federal and provincial leaders get the message that the majority of people are done with this and it’s time to move on.’

He was prepared to get arrested for the cause.

‘Last night people talked about everybody locking arms and sitting down and being arrested,’ he said. 

‘If that’s the way it happens, then so be it. I’m absolutely willing to be arrested for this. I’d give my life for freedom.’

‘I talked to a lot of the officers today,’ Gold continued. ‘A lot of them seem cool and very laid back, and they don’t want to arrest anybody.

‘At the same time, they did take an oath. So, I know earlier they pushed people back probably about 250 yards from the original position. 

‘Depending on the crowd’s mood when they try to make a move, it can go any which way.

‘I’m hoping it doesn’t turn violent,’ he added. ‘I’ve seen a couple guys in here get a little aggressive, but everybody was pretty quick to calm them down and remind them that we’re being peaceful and this is how we win.’

A NY demonstrator holds up a sign in protest of state governor Kathy Hochul's COVID policies

A NY demonstrator holds up a sign in protest of state governor Kathy Hochul’s COVID policies

Protestor Paul Acorn sits on the ground in front of police officers as they block the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge

Protestor Paul Acorn sits on the ground in front of police officers as they block the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge

Another protestor holds a sign reading" 'The media is the virus' in Edmonton, Alberta

Another protestor holds a sign reading” ‘The media is the virus’ in Edmonton, Alberta

Protestors are also seen gathering at the War Memorial around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa

Protestors are also seen gathering at the War Memorial around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa 

Truck driver Mat Mackenize and others are seen at the protest in Ottawa

Truck driver Mat Mackenize and others are seen at the protest in Ottawa

Young adults run with flags towards the protest in support of the truckers

Young adults run with flags towards the protest in support of the truckers

 The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing, carrying 25 percent of all trade between the two countries, causing auto plants on both sides to shut down or reduce production this week.

A large number of protestors were seen braving the Canadian winter temperatures and crammed themselves onto the bridge.  

Surrounded by dozens of officers, a man with ‘Mandate Freedom’ and ‘Trump 2024’ spray-painted on his vehicle left the bridge entrance early in the day as others began dismantling a small, tarp-covered encampment. 

A trucker honked his horn as he, too, drove off, to cheers and chants of ‘Freedom!’

But hundreds more arrived to bolster the crowd and settled into a faceoff with police about two blocks away, waving flags and yelling. 

While there were no visible physical confrontations, the crowd still controlled the road to the bridge, and traffic had not resumed as of the evening.

Windsor police tweeted that no one had been arrested but urged people to stay away from the bridge: ‘We appreciate the cooperation of the demonstrators at this time and we will continue to focus on resolving the demonstration peacefully. Avoid area!’

Protester Daniel Koss said shortly before police advanced that the demonstration had succeeded in bringing attention to demands to lift COVID-19 mandates and he was happy it remained peaceful.

‘It’s a win-win,’ Koss said. ‘The pandemic is rolling down right now, they can remove the mandates, all the mandates, and everyone’s happy. The government does the right thing, and the protesters are all happy.’

The previous day, a judge ordered an end to the blockade of mostly pickup trucks and cars, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency allowing for fines of 100,000 Canadian dollars and up to one year in jail for anyone illegally blocking roads, bridges, walkways and other critical infrastructure.

‘The illegal blockades are impacting trade, supply chains & manufacturing. They’re hurting Canadian families, workers & businesses. Glad to see the Windsor Police & its policing partners commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge,’ Federal Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted Saturday. ‘These blockades must stop.’ 

Trudeau is seen speaking with reporters in Ottawa in Friday in light of the demonstrations

Trudeau is seen speaking with reporters in Ottawa in Friday in light of the demonstrations

Trudeau also issued a tweet on Friday to provide an update on how the country plans to handle the demonstrations

Trudeau also issued a tweet on Friday to provide an update on how the country plans to handle the demonstrations

Hochul also announced plans to prepare for a possible demonstration in Ontario across from Buffalo

Hochul also announced plans to prepare for a possible demonstration in Ontario across from Buffalo

She visited the interagency command center in Buffalo to discuss the protests

She visited the interagency command center in Buffalo to discuss the protests

Windsor police issued a statement late Saturday in response to the continuing late night protest. 

‘We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully (and) peacefully,’ the department said in a statement. ‘Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time.’

In Ottawa, the ranks of protesters swelled to what police said was 4,000 demonstrators. 

The city has seen that on past weekends, and loud music played as people milled about downtown where anti-vaccine demonstrators have been encamped since late January.  

Ottawa police said a joint command center had now been set up together with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Police earlier issued a statement calling the protest an unlawful occupation and saying they were waiting for police ‘reinforcements’ before implementing a plan to end the demonstrations.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency last week for the capital, where hundreds of trucks remained in front of the Parliament Buildings and demonstrators have set up portable toilets outside the prime minister’s office where Trudeau’s motorcade usually parks.  

31-year-old Stephanie Ravensbergen said she turned out to support her aunt and uncle who have parked their semi in the streets since the beginning of the protest. 

She opposes vaccine and mask requirements, and said it’s important for schoolchildren to be able see their friends’ faces and emotions.

‘We want the right to choose,’ Ravensbergen said. ‘We want the right to be able to do what everybody else can do.’

Protesters on Saturday tore down a fence that authorities put up around the capital’s National War Memorial two weeks ago after demonstrators urinated on it. Some later chanted ‘liberte,’ French for ‘freedom.’

‘Completely unacceptable,’ Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s veterans affairs minister, tweeted. ‘This behavior is disappointing and I’m calling on protesters to respect our monuments.’

Counter-protestors from a group called Defend WPG hold signs and shout 'Go home' as truckers and supporters continue to protect COVID

Counter-protestors from a group called Defend WPG hold signs and shout ‘Go home’ as truckers and supporters continue to protect COVID

Counter-protestors are seen in Winnipeg to go against the truckers and their supporters

Counter-protestors are seen in Winnipeg to go against the truckers and their supporters

One sign reads 'You are emboldening reckless people in other places please go home!'

One sign reads ‘You are emboldening reckless people in other places please go home!’

An ex-Cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government took the unusual step of calling out her former federal colleagues as well as the province and city for not putting an end to the protests.

‘Amazingly, this isn’t just Ottawa. It’s the nation’s capital,’ Catherine McKenna tweeted. 

‘But no one — not the city, the province or the federal government can seem to get their act together to end this illegal occupation. It’s appalling. … Just get your act together. Now.’

Trudeau has called the protesters a ‘fringe’ of Canadian society, and both federal and provincial leaders say they can’t order police what to do.

‘Safety concerns — arising from aggressive, illegal behavior by many demonstrators — limited police enforcement capabilities,’ Ottawa police said in a statement late Saturday. 

The Canadian Prime Minister also spoke out on Friday to plead with the truckers to ‘go home.’  

‘If you join the protests because you are tired of Covid, you need to understand that you are breaking laws,’ he said. ‘The consequences are becoming more and more severe.

‘You don’t want to end up losing your license, end up with a criminal record, which will impact your job, your livelihood, even your ability to travel internationally, including to the US.’  

On the other side of the country, protesters disrupted operations at another border crossing between Surrey, British Columbia, and Blaine, Washington, but officials said it was not blocked. Two border crossings, in Alberta and in Manitoba, remained shut down as well.

TD Bank freezes accounts that received money for Canada protests

 

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) had been deposited to support protesters fighting the Canadian government’s pandemic measures, a bank spokesperson said on Saturday.

The demonstrations, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccination mandate for cross-border drivers as well as other pandemic restrictions, are now in their third week. They have gridlocked the capital Ottawa and blocked U.S.-Canada border crossings, damaging trade between the two countries.

Early on Saturday, Canadian police began clearing protesters blocking a key bridge linking Canada and the United States. read more

TD applied to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday to take the funds, which were sent through GoFundMe and bank transfers, so they can either be sent to the intended recipients or returned to the donors “who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD,” the bank said in a statement.

TD has been put “on notice that their actions are improper and disappointing,” Keith Wilson, a lawyer for the convoy, said in an email on Saturday, adding the convoy will seek a court order next week to release the donations to a new not-for-profit corporation that has been set up to manage and distribute them.

One of the bank accounts received a lump sum of C$1 million through GoFundMe, while the rest was sent to the second account through multiple bank e-transfers, the TD spokesperson said. TD does not know where the GoFundMe payment originated, they said.

GoFundMe took down the protest convoy’s donation page on Feb. 4 after it reached $10 million, prompting most of the protesters to turn to Boston-based GiveSendGo. GoFundMe has said it will refund the donations.

The Ontario Superior Court on Thursday ordered GiveSendGo to freeze all funds sent in aid of the protest. The crowdfunding platform defied that order in a tweet on Thursday.

The protest has raised C$11 million on GiveSendGo, Wilson said.

“We are also going to be taking the Ontario government to court to seek an immediate lifting of what we consider to be an unlawful order,” he said.

Canada’s other major banks did not immediately respond to emails asking if they were taking steps similar to TD.

The country’s anti-money-laundering agency told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that it has not seen a spike in suspicious transaction reporting from the banks in recent weeks.

 Source: Reuters

Another prospective protest has been slated at the Peace Bridge in Ontario with officials keeping an eye out for any sign of potential trouble.  

Posts from social media have indicated protesting to move to this area following demonstrations across other areas of the country.

As part of these demonstration plans, the planned rally has hinted at a merge between a Canadian group and two US convoys.

The timing of the protest has yet to be revealed and how it will affect the transportation of goods.  

‘The Peace Bridge is our third busiest crossing in Canada, and there are approximately 1.2 million trucks that cross that bridge each and every year,’ Mohawk College supply chain management program coordinator Carol Fleck told CBC.

‘If they were to close that bridge for any number of days, we could see closures in businesses because they’re not getting the parts to keep them open.’   

Hochul has since discussed plans to manage the potential rally taking place at the bridge that connects from Buffalo to Niagra.

 ‘Today I visited the interagency command center in Buffalo to ensure we’re prepared for any impacts from protests near the Canadian border. We are ready to address any potential travel & commerce disruptions, and also ensure we can protect everyone’s right to peaceful protest.’ Hochul said in a tweet.   

While the protesters are decrying vaccine mandates for truckers and other COVID-19 restrictions, many of Canada’s public health measures, such as mask rules and vaccine passports for getting into restaurants and theaters, are already falling away as the omicron surge levels off.

Pandemic restrictions have been far stricter there than in the U.S., but Canadians have largely supported them. 

The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and the COVID-19 death rate is one-third that of the United States.

Inspired by the Canadian demonstrations, protests against pandemic restrictions were seen in parts of Europe on Saturday.

At least 500 vehicles in several convoys attempted to enter Paris at key arteries but were intercepted by police. 

Over 200 motorists were ticketed, and elsewhere at least two people were detained amid a seizure of knives, hammers and other objects in a central square.

Police fired tear gas against a handful of people who demonstrated on the Champs Elysees Avenue in defiance of a police order. 

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, dozens of trucks and other vehicles ranging from tractors to a car towing a camper arrived in The Hague, blocking an entrance to the historic parliamentary complex. 

Protesters on foot joined them, carrying a banner emblazoned with ‘Love & freedom, no dictatorship’ in Dutch.

Earlier this week in New Zealand, protesters rolled up to Parliament grounds in a convoy of cars and trucks and set up camp.

Police have taken a hands-off approach after initial attempts to remove them resulted in physical confrontations.

Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard on Friday ordered his staff to turn on the lawn’s sprinklers to douse them and to play Barry Manilow tunes and the 1990s hit Macarena over loudspeakers to annoy them. 

Protesters responded by playing their own songs, including Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It.          

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