Canadian police have vowed to remove truck-led protests that have blocked the streets of Ottawa within days

Canadian police issued an ultimatum Wednesday to protesters throttling the streets of Ottawa for 20 days to leave the capital, as provincial and US leaders called for an end to the cross-border vaccine demand that has fueled the truck-led movement.

Meanwhile, officials announced a peaceful, negotiated end to the latest protester blockades of the Canada-US border crossings.

“You must leave the area now,” Ottawa police said in a notice distributed to truck drivers outside Parliament.

The statement said that anyone blocking the streets or assisting others in doing so would be arrested and faced charges in addition to fines and the confiscation of their trucks.

Police also warned that anyone accused or convicted of participating in an illegal demonstration may be barred, in addition to criminal penalties, from traveling to the United States.

With the notices delivered, AFP journalists saw hundreds of trucks continue to occupy the streets in the Parliamentary District, despite an extension of Wednesday’s court order against the deafening noise, obtained by area residents weary of the unrest.

“There are still a lot of trucks standing in line,” truck driver David Shaw, 65, told AFP. If he is caught, he added, “I will keep coming back.”

Fellow protester Jan Groen, 42, denounced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision earlier this week to impose a state of emergency, calling it “a little overreacted perhaps to think we are terrorists”.

In a statement, Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell said a “systematic and well-resourced plan” would be implemented over the coming days “to restore the entire downtown core and every occupied space.”

“Some of the methods that we are legally able and willing to use are not what we are used to seeing in Ottawa,” he said. “But we’re willing to use it…to restore order.”

Meanwhile, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte asked Canadian and US leaders in a letter signed by 16 US governors – all members of the Republican Party – to exempt truck drivers from vaccinations and quarantine requirements when crossing the Canada-US border.

They were joined by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who supported the truckers’ caravan.

“The timing of your decision to end vaccine and quarantine waivers was no worse, as North America already faces serious supply chain constraints,” read the letter to US President Joe Biden and Trudeau.

“These restrictions, combined with increased inflation, are placing significant burdens on residents of Canada and the United States.”

‘It’s time for this to end’ Unable to expel protesters, Trudeau this week invoked emergency law, which gives the government sweeping new powers to end demonstrations due to Covid restrictions. This move was only the second time in Canadian history that such emergency powers were invoked in peacetime.

Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday that with police now getting help from various other law enforcement units, they should be “able to start their own procedures.”

“It is time for this thing to end,” he said, adding that it was up to “the police to decide when and how.”

The so-called “freedom caravan” began with truck drivers protesting mandatory Covid vaccines to cross the US border, but its demands have since grown to include an end to all pandemic sanitary rules and, for many, a broader anti-establishment agenda.

At its height, the movement also involved a blockade of half a dozen border crossings—including a major trade route across the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

Forty-six protesters have been arrested and 37 cars seized during police operations on the Ontario and Michigan borders, and in Coats, Alberta, four people are charged with conspiring to kill police officers. They were among 13 arrested with a cache of weapons including rifles, pistols, body armor and ammunition.

On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the last closed crossing – between Manitoba and the US state of North Dakota – had reopened.

As protest organizers at a press conference continued to encourage supporters to come to the capital, Mendicino said, “Don’t do it. At best, the townspeople have made clear that this is not the time, and at worst, you may associate yourself with dangerous criminal activity.”

He said the protests were “not related to vaccines.”

Instead, he described the core protesters as “a small number of individuals of steely resolve, motivated by an extremist ideology seeking to overthrow the current government.”


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