Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been accused of bringing ‘martial law’ to Canada as he invoked the rarely-used Emergencies Act on Monday to bolster police presence across the country to crack down on Freedom Convoy protesters.
Under the Emergencies Act, the government introduced measures intended to cut off protesters’ funding and took steps to reinforce provincial and local law enforcement with federal police.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson was among commentators saying Trudeau had gone too far Monday, during a slot with on-screen graphics saying: ‘Trudeau’s new move sounds like martial law.’
‘Canada became a dictatorship today. It actually did,’ Carlson said on his show Monday night.
He pointed out that instead of meeting with protesters, Trudeau ‘fled the city and then from his bunker, he called the truckers Nazis.’
‘When they still didn’t leave the city, Justin Trudeau suspended democracy and declared Canada a dictatorship,’ Carlson said.
‘Canada became a dictatorship today. It actually did,’ Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show Monday night
Carlson added that what’s happening in Canada right now does not qualify as an emergency, as he showed footage of protesters dancing and singing in the streets in Ottawa.
‘According to Justin Trudeau, everyone you saw in that tape is a terrorist — even the kids in their bouncy castles,’ Carlson said.
‘Justin Trudeau revoked their civil liberties and authorized men with weapons to haul them to jail.’
‘So again, all of these people can now be arrested on sight simply because of where they’re standing,’ Carlson said Monday. But ‘being arrested is the least of their problem,’ he said. ‘An arrest suggests bail, you can get out of jail. You can’t get out of the country, Justin Trudeau has just made.
He explained that under martial law, ‘Trudeau has the power to force banks to seize their bank accounts, and insurance companies to cancel their insurance.’
That means they can’t actually live in Canada,’ he said. ‘They are nonperson. They are enemies of the state — and they will be crushed.’
On Monday afternoon, Trudeau told protesters they need to ‘go home now’ – but he’s held back deploying the military under the Act, which grants powers that have been used only once before in peacetime
‘The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,’ Trudeau said at a news conference on Monday. ‘We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.’
But the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the government had not met the standard for invoking the Emergencies Act, which is intended to deal with threats to ‘sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,’ the group said.
The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, which started by Canadian truckers opposing a COVID-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have drawn thousands of people opposed to Trudeau’s policies.
Protesters camped in front of the Canadian Parliament, some of whom want the prime minister to meet with them, said the latest steps were excessive.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being accused of bringing ‘martial law’ to Canada as he invoked the rarely-used Emergencies Act on Monday to bolster police presence across the country to crack down on Freedom Convoy protesters
Under the Emergencies Act, the government introduced measures intended to cut off protesters’ funding and took steps to reinforce provincial and local law enforcement with federal police
At one of the blockades in Alberta, Canadian Mounties on Monday arrested 11 people and seized a cache of guns, body armor, high-capacity magazines and a machete in connection to what they said was a plot to use force against police if they attempted to disperse the protest
Carlson said that what’s happening in Canada right now does not qualify as an emergency. ‘According to Justin Trudeau, everyone you saw in that tape is a terrorist — even the kids in their bouncy castles’
The government is also using the Emergencies Act to go after those who financially support illegal protests, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said at the news conference.
Freeland said financial institutions are being given the power to suspend or freeze personal or corporate accounts that are suspected of funding illegal protests.
‘We are making these changes because we know that these (crowdfunding) platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy,’ Freeland said.
Canadian authorities have said about half of the funding for the protests has come from U.S. supporters. Toronto-Dominion Bank last week froze two personal bank accounts that received C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) for the protests.
Through protesters have been cleared from the key Ambassador Bridge, where about 30 protesters were arrested on Sunday, large demonstrations continue to paralyze the streets of Ottawa and protesters are blockading several border crossings in western Canada.
At one of the blockades in Alberta, Canadian Mounties on Monday arrested 11 people and seized a cache of guns, body armor, high-capacity magazines and a machete in connection to what they said was a plot to use force against police if they attempted to disperse the protest.
On Monday afternoon, Trudeau told protesters they need to ‘go home now’ – but he’s held back deploying the military under the Act, which grants powers that have been used only once before in peacetime, and will now be used to tackle protests over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions.
Trudeau said that invoking the Act will strengthen the police’s ability to impose fines and even imprisonment for protesters who blockade borders
The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, which started by Canadian truckers opposing a COVID-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have drawn thousands of people opposed to Trudeau’s policies
Protesters camped in front of the Canadian Parliament, some of whom want the prime minister to meet with them, said the latest steps were excessive
Trudeau said that invoking the Act will strengthen the police’s ability to impose fines and even imprisonment for protesters who blockade borders.
It will also grant them the power to tow vehicles, and banks will be given the power to freeze funds associated with protesters if they are used in relation to Freedom Convoy demonstrations.
On Monday night, one report suggested that tow truck drivers could be compelled – and paid – to assist the removal of vehicles blocking bridges.
‘We will not and cannot allow these illegal and dangerous activities to continue. There are other ways to express yourselves without engaging in illegal and dangerous activities,’ he said.
‘We are not using the Emergencies Act to call in the military. We are not limiting freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and people’s right to protest freely.’
Earlier, on Monday morning, Trudeau held meetings with his Liberal Caucus and the premiers of the nation’s provinces, who are the Canadian equivalent of state governors.
Following the meetings, the provincial premiers of Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, and Saskatchewan spoke out opposing Trudeau’s extraordinary plan.
‘We have the legal powers that we need. We have the operational resources that we need to enforce, and I think at this point for the federal government to reach in over top of us without offering anything in particular would frankly be unhelpful,’ said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who is grappling with a border blockade at Coutts.
‘I am concerned that there’s a certain kind of person that if the federal government proceeds with this, who will be further inflamed and that could lead to prolongation of some of these protests,’ he added.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who also has a border blockade ongoing in her province, likewise said Trudeau’s plan as ‘not helpful’.
‘In my view, the sweeping effects and signals associated with the never-before-used Emergencies Act are not constructive here in Manitoba, where caution must be taken against overreach and unintended negative consequences,’ Stefanson said in a statement.
‘I am not currently satisfied the Emergencies Act should be applied in Manitoba. Winnipeg’s situation is dramatically different from the one in Ottawa,’ she added.
Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergency Act which he said will strengthen the police’s ability to impose fines and even imprisonment for protesters who blockade borders. It will also grant them the power to tow vehicles, and banks will be given the power to freeze funds associated with protesters if they are used in relation to Freedom Convoy demonstrations
Traffic flows freely over the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit on Monday after protesters blocked the major border crossing for nearly a week in Windsor, Ontario
A person waves a Canadian flag in front of banners in support of truckers, as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Monday
Through protesters have been cleared from the key Ambassador Bridge, where about 30 protesters were arrested on Sunday, large demonstrations continue to paralyze the streets of Ottawa and protesters are blockading several border crossings in western Canada
In Ottawa, many truckers woke on Monday to find their tires slashed. The woman whose tires were slashed was arrested after being detained by the truckers
Canada’s Emergencies Act would grant Trudeau broad powers
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly planning to invoke the rarely used 1988 Emergencies Act, which would allow the federal government to override the provinces and restrict the movement of people and goods.
The Emergencies Act would allow the federal government to impose special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies anywhere in the country.
The legislation essentially grants Ottawa carte blanche to do anything it deems necessary to respond to an emergency.
The powers it grants include the ability to restrict travel, seize property, prohibit public assembly, and assume control of public services such as police forces.
The law defines a national emergency as a temporary ‘urgent and critical situation’ that ‘seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.’
The legislation, previously known as the War Measures Act, has been used only three times in Canadian history: during the two world wars and in 1970 by Trudeau’s father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, after militant Quebec separatists kidnapped a British diplomat and a provincial Cabinet minister.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also publicly denounced Trudeau’s plan as unnecessary overreach.
‘The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor,’ tweeted Moe, who leads the center-right Saskatchewan Party.
‘Therefore, Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act.’
In Quebec, which was subjected to a controversial war-powers crackdown in 1970 by Justin Trudeau’s father, Premier François Legault also spoke out opposing the sweeping measure.
‘I was very clear: we do not want a federal state of emergency on the territory of Quebec,’ Legault told reporters, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Legault said he understands that ‘there’s a specific problem in Ontario, in particular in Ottawa’ and Quebec would support whatever needs to be done there by the Ontario and federal governments.
Protesters kicked off the Ambassador Bridge blockade were upset by the move on Monday, they told DailyMail.com
‘It is a little upsetting because we did work really hard to secure Huron Church,’ one protester, Tristan Emond, 22, said, his voice hoarse.
‘It’s pretty sad how the government can shut down the economy for two years and small businesses completely lose their livelihoods, but the second we start affecting the government and the big businesses and big corporations is when they put their foot down and when they start having issues.
‘It’s freezing out here, but we got to deal with it if we want any change.
‘This is not over. This will not be over till we get our rights and our freedom back here,’ the Windsor local added.
In Ontario, which has seen the fiercest protests, both in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Premier Doug Ford said that he is in favor of using the Emergencies Act.
‘I support the federal government and any proposal they have to bring law and order back to our province, to make sure we stabilize our business and trade around the world,’ he said before meeting with Trudeau on Monday.
The 1988 Emergencies Act allows the federal government to override the provinces and authorize special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies anywhere in the country.
The legislation, previously known as the War Measures Act, has been used only three times in Canadian history: during the two world wars and in 1970 by Trudeau’s father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, after militant Quebec separatists kidnapped a British diplomat and a provincial Cabinet minister.
Meanwhile, at the Coutts border crossing in Alberta, which has been blockaded for weeks, Mounties arrested 11 people and seized a cache of firearms, body armor and a machete, saying that a subset of demonstrators had been plotting to use force against police if attempts were made to disperse the blockade.
And a fundraising site that was used to raise at least $8.6 million in donations for the protesters was seized by hackers, who claimed to have stolen the personal information of all who made donations.
As tensions boiled over, Ontario’s premier announced Monday that the province will lift its COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination requirements in two weeks – but claimed it was not because of the protests over the mandate, but because ‘it is safe to do so.’
Demonstrators and vehicles block downtown streets in front of the Parliament Hill on Monday as truckers and supporters continue to protest the vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario
A demonstrator holding a Canadian flag walks in front of vehicles as truckers and their supporters block downtown Ottawa
A protester stands under a giant Canadian flag Monday in Ottawa. The protesters are decrying federal vaccine mandates and provincial COVID-19 restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus
A protester holds a hockey stick wrapped in a Canadian flag above his head Monday in Ottawa.
Although sources have told Canada’s CTV News that Trudeau is not planning to call in the military, two Ottawa city councillors have called for troops to be send in – which would be a drastically rare move for Canadian soldiers to face civilians.
Crowds of up to 4,000 people who thronged Ottawa’s downtown Red Zone over the weekend, creating a sea of red and white Canadian flags, have melted away with the start of the work week. Part of a stage across the street from Trudeau’s office window – used by various speakers over the weekend – was being dismantled.
But there was no sign at lunchtime Monday of trucks moving from the city’s residential streets, after mayor Watson said in a letter on Sunday to Freedom Convoy 2022 leader Tamara Lich that he expected them to leave by 12.
Most were sitting in their cabs shielding from the intense cold, with daytime temperatures down to a real feel of negative 12 Fahrenheit on day 18 of the blockade.
Watson admitted on Monday: ‘There are a number of people that want to try to see this particular deal fail. I’m under no illusions. This is going to be difficult to implement and enforce.’
Lich had said to him in a reply letter: ‘The truckers here in Ottawa have always been about peaceful protest. Many of the citizens and businesses in Ottawa have been cheering us on but we are also disturbing others. That was never our intent.
‘The Freedom Convoy Board agree with your request to reduce pressure on the residents and businesses in the City of Ottawa. We have made a plan to consolidate our protest efforts around Parliament Hill.
‘We will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get buy-in from the truckers. We hope to start repositioning our trucks on Monday.’
A man walks between trucks during a protest by truck drivers over pandemic health rules and the Trudeau government, outside the parliament of Canada in Ottawa on Monday
Tractor trailers drive across the Ambassador Bridge border crossing from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan, on Monday
Canada’s 1970 ‘October Crisis’ is the only prior peacetime use of emergency powers
Canadian soldiers guard a street corner in Montreal in 1970 after Prime Minister Trudeau invoked emergency powers
The October Crisis of 1970 is the only prior use of federal emergency powers in peacetime.
Justin Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invoked powers under the War Measures Act, which was later renamed the Emergencies Act.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is seen during the 1970 crisis
The crisis unfolded when the separatist group Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped the provincial Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross from his Montreal residence.
The use of emergency powers granted the police far-reaching powers, suspending habeas corpus, allowing them to arrest and detain 497 people, and allowing the deployment of the Canadian military throughout Quebec.
Negotiations secured the release of Cross, but Laporte was murdered by the separatists.
Authorities pursued the cell responsible for the kidnapping and tracked down the final members of the gang in December 1970.
He said he expected Lich to live up to the agreement, adding: ‘If she doesn’t, well at least we’ve tried something that’s different than what has been tried for the last two weeks, and hasn’t worked.
‘There’s going to be lots of ups and downs over the course of the next 24 hours. Not all of the truckers are part of this one movement.
‘There are a lot of splinter groups, and so I don’t anticipate every single truck will leave from a residential area, but at least consolidating them in one area away from residential communities is a small victory for the residents if it in fact goes through.’
Watson has agreed it could take two to three days to move the trucks from the areas, which would leave the other rigs in the heart of the city’s government district.
But he added: ‘Bottom line is – we’re not giving them any deals, we’re not giving them any special treatment.’
Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act is a dramatic development amid the first signs of tentative negotiations.
The act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, defines a national emergency as a temporary ‘urgent and critical situation’ that ‘seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians.’
Meanwhile, Ottawa city councillor Matthew Luloff on Monday asked Ontario’s attorney general to request Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Wayne Eyre, to call in the armed forces to ‘effect the immediate removal of all occupiers and their vehicles from Ottawa.’
He was backed by fellow councillor Carole Anne Meehan.
By 2pm some trucks had begun to move from Ottawa’s downtown residential district.
Mayor Jim Watson said: ‘The convoy leaders have started to act on their commitment to move several tricks from the residential district … this is a complex multi-day operation.’
Meanwhile, hackers knocked the fundraising site GiveSendGo offline in an attack targeting a campaign that raised at least $8.6 million to support the Freedom Convoy demonstrations.
The attack on Sunday night redirected visitors to a taunting video from the Disney film Frozen, and a message slamming the Freedom Convoy as an ‘insurrection’ led by ‘known extremists.’
The unidentified hackers claimed to have stolen the list of donors who contributed to the campaign and provided the information to a third-party website which is now offering to share it with ‘journalists and researchers.’
The data was analyzed by CBC, who found that 55.7 per cent of the 92,844 donations made public came from donors in the United States, while just 39 per cent came from donors located in Canada.
But while the U.S. donations included a number of large contributions — in some cases from names matching the names of donors to former U.S. president Donald Trump’s campaigns — Canadians actually gave more money in total to the convoy protest.
Trudeau had previously claimed at least half of all donations supporting the protests came from foreign sources, including the US.
Traffic flows over the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Monday after protesters were cleared from the bridge
Traffic is seen flowing across the Ambassador Bridge on Monday morning after the final protesters were cleared away. Police on Sunday arrested about 30 demonstrators who could now face a year in jail and fines of $100,000
A police officer talks to a motorist at a barricade along the road towards the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Monday. The border crossing reopened to traffic last night-the bridge was closed for almost a week
BREAKING: GiveSendGo, the crowdfunding website used by the Freedom Convoy, is now redirecting to the domain GiveSendGone[.]wtf.
A video from the Disney film Frozen now appears alongside a manifesto condemning the website and the Freedom Convoy. pic.twitter.com/3TLAwfvZ3w
— Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen) February 14, 2022
The attack on Sunday night redirected visitors to a taunting video from the Disney film Frozen, and a message slamming the Freedom Convoy as an ‘insurrection’ led by ‘known extremists’
The US-based Christian fundraising site became the main conduit for donations to support the Freedom Convoy after GoFundMe buckled to pressure to shut down another fundraiser that had raised some $10 million
The hackers claimed to have stolen the list of donors who contributed to the campaign, which the leak site Distributed Denial of Secrets is now offering to share with ‘journalists and researchers.’
Truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates from the camp at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa
In Coutts on Monday, the Alberta RCMP said it ‘recently became aware of a small organized group within the larger Coutts protest’.
‘The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade. This resulted in an immediate and complex investigation to determine the extent of the threat and criminal organization,’ the Mounties said.
The RCMP said it executed a search warrant on three trailers Monday morning, and seized 13 long guns, numerous handguns, body armor, and ammunition.
Eleven people were arrested in connection with the raid, and the Mounties said as an example of the group’s ‘militant mindset,’ a large farm tractor and a semi truck attempted to ram a police vehicle on Sunday night.
It came as the key Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit with Windsor, Ontario was re-opened to traffic on Monday after protesters blocked it for nearly a week.
Police in Windsor arrested some 25 to 30 protesters who refused to clear off the bridge, and they now could face up to a year in jail and $100,000 fines under Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s emergency decree. Windsor cops say seven vehicles were towed and five seized as officers cleared the last demonstrators
But a larger protest in the capital, Ottawa, persisted on Monday as city residents seethed over authorities’ inability to reclaim the streets.
The demonstrations in Ottawa have now continued for more than two weeks, with truckers and their supporters blockading the streets around Parliament Hill to protest vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions.
Ottawa’s mayor said Sunday that demonstrators had agreed to clear off residential streets and confine their blockade to Parliament Hill, but protest leaders denied such a deal had been struck. Ottawa’s city council planned a special meeting on Monday to address the demonstrations.
In a move to ease controversial restrictions that spurred the protests, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that on March 1, the province will drop its requirement that people show proof of vaccination to get into restaurants, restaurants, gyms and sporting events.
‘Let me very clear: We are moving in this direction because it is safe to do so. Today’s announcement is not because of what’s happening in Ottawa or Windsor but despite it,’ Ford said.
A surge of cases caused by the Omicron variant has crested in Canada.
The province will also remove its 50 percent capacity limit on restaurants on Thursday, four days earlier than planned. Ford gave no timetable for dropping the requirement that people wear masks in public places.
Ford said he would support Trudeau’s government if it proposed further measures to quell the protests.
As of Monday morning, the GiveSendGo website appeared to be offline. Visitors to the website were met with the message that it was under maintenance and ‘we will be back very soon.’
A message seeking comment from the site’s operators was not immediately returned early Monday.
Trucks drive down the road towards the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Monday
A truck drives under a pedestrian bridge on the route from the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ontario on Monday. The bridge was closed for almost a week after ‘Freedom Convoy’ protestors blocked the road
The Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest trade link, reopened for traffic late Sunday evening, ending a six-day blockade
The US-based Christian fundraising site became the main conduit for donations to support the Freedom Convoy after GoFundMe buckled to pressure to shut down another fundraiser that had raised some $10 million.
A Canadian court ordered the GiveSendGo funds to be frozen, but the website defied the order and said that the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter.
Daily Dot reporter Mikael Thalen first reported that the site suffered a hack overnight Sunday and had its front page briefly replaced by a clip from the movie Frozen and a manifesto accusing it of supporting ‘an insurrection in Ottawa.’
The leak site Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS) claimed to have 30 megabytes of donor information from people who contributed to the Freedom Convoy, including names, email addresses, zip codes, and internet protocol addresses.
DDoS said that, because the donor information contains sensitive personal information, it would not be making the data available publicly but will instead be offering it to ‘journalists and researchers.’
DDoS describes itself as a non-profit devoted to enabling the free transmission of data in the public interest. The site frequently disclosed hacked information targeting supporters of right-wing movements.
Protestors still occupy Ottawa’s Parliament Hill regardless of pleas from politicians and local residents to leave
People gather for an anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday
Police officers stand on Wellington Street in the Parliament Hill area of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Sunday
Demonstrators gather around a fire during a protest by truck drivers over pandemic health rules and the Trudeau government, outside the parliament of Canada in Ottawa on Sunday
Blockades remain at some western crossings after the Ambassador Bridge was cleared and reopened
The funding of the Canadian protests has emerged as a key point of interest as authorities in Ottawa and elsewhere try to get a grip on the rallies, which have been blockading cities and border crossings across Canada with demands that include the deposition of Trudeau.
GiveSendGo became a prime conduit for money to the protesters after mainstream crowdfunding platform GoFundMe blocked donations to the movement.
The Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest trade link, reopened for traffic late Sunday evening, ending a six-day blockade, Canada Border Services Agency said, after Canadian police cleared the protesters fighting to end COVID-19 restrictions.
The crossing normally carries 25 percent of all trade between the two countries, and the blockade on the Canadian side had disrupted business in both countries, with automakers forced to shut down several assembly plants.
A steady stream of trucks as far as the eye could see were making their way across the Ambassador Bridge at dawn Monday, their lights shining bright on the dark morning hours after the reopening.
Authorities set up jersey barriers along Huron Church Road to keep local traffic back and prevent protesters from attempting another blockade. Police cars lined all intersections leading up to the bridge, with officers threatening to arrest anyone who breached the route.
A few hearty protesters stood on a mound of snow in shopping plaza a half block away at 6am, waving the Canadian flag and still shouting out ‘freedom’ as the temperature hovered around 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
After a weeklong blockage, police cleared the roadway early Sunday.
Then in the afternoon, a moving line of officers, supported by an armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police tactical unit, pushed protesters back to expand the exclusion zone and arrested about two dozen people on mischief charges.
‘I was standing there waving my flag and a couple RCMP officers came right behind us and grabbed the one guy who was with me by the back of the neck, lifting him up then slamming him onto the ground,’ said Emond.
‘The other RMP officer tried to grab me, but I had already gotten too far away from him.
‘I’m absolutely disgusted with the way police have treated us,’ he said.
‘We have done nothing but peacefully protest.’
Ambassador Bridge re-opens in Windsor, Ontario in Canada after a week of blockade and protest against vaccine mandates
Lone protestor Tristan Emond stands out in the frigid temperatures near the Ambassador Bridge after a large police operation successfully cleared the important crossing into the United States
A steady stream of trucks as far as the eye could see were making their way across the Ambassador Bridge at dawn Monday
Across the street, Mason Hill, 32, was grabbing coffee at a Tim Horton’s, seeing dozens of emergency vehicles blocking access to Huron Church. The barriers were preventing him from bicycling to his job at a nearby retirement home.
‘This is ridiculous,’ Hill told DailyMail.com. ‘I understand this is cause and effect of the protest. I am happy to see the trucks moving away. At the same time, what they’re doing right now with the lights and blocking all the side roads off, it seems too excessive.’
Ben Skill, 23, was grabbing a breakfast sandwich. A day earlier, he was among the protesters.
‘I guess that things had to get moving at some point,’ said Skill, a toolmaker. ‘The police are doing their jobs. As protesters, we were doing our job too. We have been directly affected by the closure of the bridge, too, but it’s still for a good cause.’
Barry Brugge, 44, who was getting hot coffee for his wife, said he was happy to see the bridge reopened, especially because it means his daughter could return to work at a local McDonald’s, which was forced to close during the blockage.
‘It’s nice to see traffic going again,’ Brugge said. ‘I kind of understand the message the protesters were trying to make, but it was getting way out of hand.’
Police in Windsor, Ontario, said earlier in the day that more than two dozen people had been peacefully arrested, seven vehicles towed and five seized as officers cleared the last demonstrators from near the bridge, which links the city – and numerous Canadian automotive plants – with Detroit.
The words ‘Freedom Convoy 2022’ are visible on a truck that is part of a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa
People demonstrating against COVID-19 restrictions stay warm with blankets and a fire during frigid temperatures on Wellington Street in the Parliament Hill area of Ottawa
A resident holds a sign towards protesters as they participate in a counter protest to stop vehicles from driving in a convoy en route to Parliament Hill
Freedom Convoy organizers appeared to offer to clear Ottawa’s residential streets in a letter to the mayor, but there was conflicting information about the nature of the agreement
Protest organizer Tamara Lich posted subsequent tweets making the status of an agreement unclear
Demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions and other issues have blocked several crossings along the U.S.-Canada border and hurt the economies of both nations.
They also inspired similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that truck convoys may be in the works in the United States.
Police in Windsor, Ontario, arrested 25 to 30 protesters and towed several vehicles Sunday near the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor – and numerous Canadian automotive plants – with Detroit.
The bridge reopened to traffic late Sunday night, a spokeswoman for bridge owner Detroit International Bridge Co. confirmed. Canada Border Services also confirmed that the bridge is open.
After protesters began blocking bridge access February 7, automakers began shutting down or reducing production – at a time when the industry is already struggling with pandemic-induced shortages of computer chips and other supply-chain disruptions.
‘Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end,’ said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. ‘Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination.’
In the US, copycat protests are planned including a convoy to Buffalo and another to Washington DC planned for March
Police gather to clear protestors against Covid-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on Sunday. The bridge reopened to traffic on Sunday night
Police gather to clear protestors against Covid-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Sunday
A police officer reacts on the road leading to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, after police cleared demonstrators Sunday
Police advance against protestors who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario on Sunday
Police surround pickup trucks as they clear protestors who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor
Police tow a truck as they remove all truckers and supporters after a court injunction gave police the power to enforce the law after protesters blocked the access leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, on Sunday
About 470 miles northeast of Windsor, the protest in Ottawa has paralyzed downtown, infuriated residents who are fed up with police inaction and turned up pressure on Trudeau.
The city had appeared to have reached a deal in which protesters, who have jammed downtown streets for more than two weeks, would move out of residential areas, but those prospects soon faded.
Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday that he agreed to meet with demonstrators if they confined their protest to an area around Parliament Hill and moved their trucks and other vehicles out of residential neighborhoods by noon Monday.
He shared a letter from one of the protest’s organizers, Tamara Lich, in which she said demonstrators ‘agree with your request’ to focus activities at Parliament Hill.
But Lich later denied there was an agreement, saying in a tweet: ‘No deal has been made. End the mandates, end the passports. That is why we are here.’
Lich then seemed to contradict herself in a subsequent tweet, writing: ‘Plans to relocate trucks out of residential areas as agreed to will go ahead.’
In a letter Watson wrote to protesters, he said residents are ‘exhausted’ and ‘on edge’ due to the demonstrations, and he warned that some businesses are teetering on the brink of permanent closure because of the disruptions.
A person holds a sign as people take part in a counter-protest blocking a small convoy of truckers who demonstrate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in the outskirts of Ottawa, in Ontario on Sunday
A resident holds a sign calling for a convoy participant to remove their Canadian flag as they negotiate to release vehicles from a counter protest that blocked Riverside Drive for hours, in Ottawa on Sunday
People gather outside a police station in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Sunday, demanding authorities remove truck drivers and other protesters who have taken over the area around Parliament Hill to demonstrate against COVID-19 restrictions
Truck driver Spencer Bautz (24) climbs into his cab during a protest by truck drivers over Covid-19 pandemic health rules and the Trudeau government, outside the parliament of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario on Sunday
In Surrey, British Columbia, police arrested four demonstrators Sunday, and officers in Alberta said they intercepted and disabled three excavators that were being brought to a border blockade in the town of Coutts.
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 in Canada 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.
A judge on Friday ordered an end to the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, 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 and other critical infrastructure.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Sunday acknowledged the resolution to the bridge demonstration, which it said had ‘widespread damaging impacts’ on the ‘lives and livelihoods of people’ on both sides of the border.
The Windsor protest began to dwindle Saturday after police persuaded many protesters to remove vehicles blocking the road to the bridge. But in Ottawa, Saturday’s crowd swelled to what police said were 4,000 demonstrators, and a counter-protest of frustrated Ottawa residents attempting to block the convoy of trucks from entering downtown emerged Sunday.
Clayton Goodwin, a 45-year-old military veteran who was among the counter-protesters, said it was time for residents to stand up against the protesters.
‘I´m horrified that other veterans would be down there co-opting my flag, co-opting my service,’ said Goodwin, who is the CEO of the Veterans Accountability Commission, a nonprofit advocacy group.
‘It’s a grift. The city was free. We’re 92 percent vaccinated. We’re ready to support our businesses.’
Colleen Sinclair, another counter-protester, said the demonstrators have had their say and need to move on – with police force, if necessary.
‘They’re occupiers,’ she said. ‘This is domestic terrorism and we want you out of our city. Go home.’
Trudeau has so far rejected calls to use the military, but has said ‘all options are on the table’ to end the protests. Trudeau has called the protesters a ‘fringe’ of Canadian society.
Both federal and provincial politicians have said they can’t order police what to do.
Major-General Steve Boivin, commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, said Sunday that two of his special forces soldiers were supporting the protests in Ottawa and were in the ‘process of being released’ from service. Boivin said the activity goes against the military’s values and ethics.