Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a state of emergency in an attempt to end the “siege” in Ottawa and Windsor since the truck convoy protests kept disrupting traffic and halted the transport of goods around the Canadian border.
On Friday, Ford announced at Queen’s Park, stating that he will hold cabinet and “use legal authorities to urgently enact orders” that will guard international border crossings, and also the 400-series highways, bridges, airports, ports, and railways in the area.
The premier said that penalties for non-adherence will be acute, with an utmost penalty of $100,000 and imprisonment for a period of up to one year.
Additional Authority to Hold Back Licenses for Non-compliance
The premier stated that the orders will “make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along with critical infrastructure.”
The province will also be giving “additional authority” to hold back the personal as well as commercial licenses of people who do not adhere.
At the news conference, Ford said “While these emergency orders will be temporary, we have every intention to bring new legislation forward that will make these measures permanent in law. We are taking the steps necessary to support our police as they do what it takes to restore law and order,”.
The protests in Ottawa have exceeded the two weeks, pushing the mayor to announce its state of emergency earlier this weekend, whilst the roadblock in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge has been continuing since Monday.
The demonstrators claim they are not in support of vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 protocols currently in place.
New Measures Will Not Hinder the Right to Protest
While speaking out on Friday, the premier expressed it clearly that the new measures will not hinder anyone’s right to protest, but also stated that the protests in Ottawa and Windsor have been going on for a long period and are now affecting the economy of the province.
Ford said “We are now two weeks into the siege of the City of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that is what it is. It’s an illegal occupation,” adding further “This is no longer a protest.
With a protest, you peacefully make your point and you go back home, and I know that the vast majority of people did that. They came, they peacefully demonstrated, they made their point and they left.” And I want to say to those people,” you have been heard, Canada has heard you.”
He added, “My message to those still in Ottawa, to those at our border crossings, please go home.”
Ford mentioned that the government does not give instructions to the police, but instead sets up laws for the province.
The solicitor general later clarified that the initial state of emergency declaration will remain for 42 hours and the cabinet will meet on Saturday to further change it if it is required.
On Thursday, the premier also said the province has successfully applied for a court order to halt the distribution of donations collected via online fundraising for the convoy, who are protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 measures.
An application is also prepared to be heard by the Ontario Superior Court for an order that would stop protesters from hindering the Ambassador Bridge.