No immediate word from police on when or if they might move in to clear hundreds of trucks by force in capital Ottawa but protest leaders say they’re ready for action.
A showdown has appeared to be shaping up in Ottawa’s nearly three-week siege by truckers protesting the country’s Covid-19 restrictions as police in the capital warned drivers to leave immediately or risk arrest.
Authorities in yellow “police liaison” vests went from rig to rig on Wednesday, knocking on the doors and handing truckers leaflets informing them they could be prosecuted, lose their licenses and see their vehicles seized under Canada’s Emergencies Act.
Police also began ticketing vehicles.
The big rigs parked outside the Parliament represented the movement’s last stronghold after demonstrators abandoned their sole remaining truck blockade along the US border.
With that, all border crossings were open for the first time in more than two weeks of unrest, centering attention on the capital, where drivers defiantly ripped up warnings telling them to go home.
On Wednesday, one protester shouted, “I will never go home!”
Some threw the warning into a toilet put out on the street. Protesters sat in their trucks and honked their horns in a chorus that echoed loudly downtown.
There was no immediate word from police on when or if they might move in to clear the hundreds of trucks by force. But protest leaders braced for action.
“If it means that I need to go to prison if I need to be fined in order to allow freedom to be restored in this country — millions of people have given far more for their freedom,” said David Paisley, who traveled to Ottawa with a friend who is a truck driver.
Who is funding the 'Freedom Convoy' protests in Canada? pic.twitter.com/kwU2leJ85F
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 16, 2022
Tough decision after pressuring weeks
The warnings came two days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the emergency law to try to break the protests.
Some lawmakers are faulting the younger Trudeau for not moving more decisively against the protests, while others are accusing him of going too far in assuming emergency powers.
Since late January, protesters in trucks and other vehicles have jammed the streets of the capital and obstructed border crossings.
With the busiest border crossing between the US and Canada now cleared of almost all protesters, authorities are working to re-open the Ambassador Bridge.
Police in Ottawa also appear to be preparing to move on truckers who arrived in the capital over two weeks ago pic.twitter.com/EgKX3wWpva
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 14, 2022
The demonstrations by the self-styled “Freedom Convoy” initially focused on Canada’s vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country but soon morphed into a broad attack on Covid-19 precautions and Trudeau himself.