Police in Canada’s capital tell truckers who have crippled the city for more than two weeks it’s time to go
OTTAWA, Ontario – Ottawa police trying to break the nearly three-week siege of the capital by truckers protesting Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions began handing out leaflets on Wednesday warning drivers to leave immediately or risk being arrested.
Authorities in yellow “police liaison” vests went from platform to platform, knocking on the doors of trucks parked outside Parliament, to tell truckers they could also lose their license and have their vehicles seized under of Canada’s Emergencies Act.
Police have also started ticketing vehicles.
Some truckers tore up the order and one protester shouted, “I’m never going home!” At least one truck driver drove away from Parliament Hill.
Police did not immediately say when or if they might intervene to extricate the trucks by force. But protest leaders braced for action on Wednesday.
Marie Eye, 43, of Victoriaville, Que., who cooks soup for protesters, said she doubted police would be able to remove the platforms or the protesters.
“Well, so far it’s just scraps of paper,” she said of the printed warnings. “We’ll see what happens. I don’t think they have the manpower to do it.”
The warnings came just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Law, which gave authorities the power to ban blockades and tow trucks.
Since late January, protesters in trucks and other vehicles have blocked the capital’s streets and obstructed border crossings, denouncing vaccination mandates for truckers and other COVID-19 precautions and condemning the government. Trudeau Liberal.
Only a blockade remained at the U.S. border, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it expected the last remaining protesters to leave the site in Emerson, Manitoba, across from North Dakota, in the early afternoon of Wednesday, the gendarmerie escorting the vehicles.
In Ottawa, bumper-to-bumper protests by the so-called Freedom Convoy infuriated many residents, who complained of being harassed and intimidated in the congested streets.
Ottawa police were optimistic they could take control in the coming days after Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday.
In recent weeks, authorities have been reluctant to act against protesters, in some cases citing understaffing and fears of violence.
Trudeau’s decision came amid growing frustration with government inaction. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly lost his job this week after failing to act decisively against protesters.
Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said Tuesday he believes authorities have reached a turning point: ‘I believe we now have the resources and the partners to safely end this occupation. .”
But protesters in the capital appeared to be entrenched. On Tuesday, Ottawa officials said 360 vehicles remained involved in the blockade in the heart of the city, down from a high of around 4,000.
“They don’t want to give up because this is their last fight, their last main hub,” said Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa.
Even after the warnings, a few protesters roasted a pig in the street outside Parliament and a child played with blocks in a small playground on a road lined with lorries.
Police in the capital appeared to be following the playbook authorities used over the weekend to break the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor, Ont., with Detroit. The police distributed leaflets there informing the demonstrators that they risked being arrested. After many demonstrators left and the protest subsided, the police intervened and made dozens of arrests.
Gillies reported from Toronto. Associated Press writer Robert Bumsted in Ottawa contributed to this report.