Trudeau says protests must end, truckers brace for crackdown

Ottawa: Police poured into downtown Ottawa on Thursday in what truckers feared was a prelude to a crackdown on their nearly three-week, street-clogging protest against Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Work crews in the capital began erecting fences outside Parliament, and for the second day in a row, officers handed out warnings to the protesters to leave. Busloads of police converged on the area.

“It’s high time that these illegal and dangerous activities stop,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared in Parliament, not far from where the hundreds of big rigs were parked. “They are a threat to our economy and our relationship with trading partners,” he said. “They are a threat to public safety.”

Ottawa represented the movement’s last stronghold after weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the U.S., inflicted economic damage on both countries, and created a political crisis for Trudeau.

The protests have also shaken Canada’s reputation for civility and rule-following and inspired similar convoys in France, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

Early this week, Trudeau invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act, empowering law enforcement authorities to declare the blockades illegal, tow away trucks, and punish the drivers by arresting them, freezing their bank accounts, and suspending their licenses.

Officers on Thursday delivered a third round of warnings and also placed notices on vehicles, helpfully advising owners how and where to pick up their trucks if they are towed.

The protests around Canada by demonstrators in trucks, tractors, and motor homes initially focused on Canada’s vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country but soon morphed into a broader attack on COVID-19 precautions and Trudeau’s government.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Star Tribune)

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