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Ontario Gov’t Declares State of Emergency Over Truck Blockades

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Ontario’s premier announced a state of emergency on Friday, in response to the truck blockades in Ottawa and along the U.S. border and threatened to impose severe penalties on anyone who hinders the movement of goods and people.

According to a report, since Monday, the protests of a plethora of drivers against COVID-19’s mandates in Canada and expressing their anger at liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have bottled up the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, which has disrupted the auto industry on both sides of the border. More than a hundred truckers have blocked the downtown of Ottawa the past two weeks.

Premier Doug Ford said he would meet with the provincial cabinet on Saturday to urgently enact measures to make it crystal clear that it is illegal to shut down critical infrastructure. Violators could be punished up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of CA$100,000.

“Let me be as clear as I can: There will be consequences for these actions, and they will be severe,” Ford said. “This is a pivotal, pivotal moment for our nation.”

According to the premier’s office, the measures will also grant an additional power to consider taking away the personal and commercial licenses of anyone who doesn’t comply.

Separately, the mayor of Windsor planned to seek an injunction on Friday afternoon to break up the bridge blockade, as parts shortages caused by the protest forced General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Honda to close auto plants or cancel shifts.

Federal, provincial, and local authorities have resisted the urge to remove the self-proclaimed Freedom Convoy protesters there forcefully and across the country, reflecting a lack of manpower by local police, Canada’s reverence for free speech, and fear of violence. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens warned earlier this week that some truckers are willing to die.

However, the political pressure to open the bridge appeared to be mounted along with the economic toll. The Biden administration has called on Trudeau’s administration to stop the blockade, and Michigan’s governor also demanded an immediate resolution to the standoff.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing that handles 25% of trade between both nations. The border standoff is occurring at a time when Canada’s auto industry is already struggling to keep production going due to pandemic-related shortages of computer chips as well as other disruptions in the supply chain.

“American legislators are freaking out, and rightfully so,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “Pressure is now being exerted by the White House on Trudeau to act more decisively.”

In addition to maintaining the bumper-to-bumper occupation of Ottawa, protesters have closed three border crossings in all: at Windsor; at Coutts, Alberta, opposite Montana; and at Emerson, Manitoba, across from North Dakota.

“We are now two weeks into the siege of Ottawa,” Ford said. “It’s an illegal occupation. It’s no longer a protest.”

The Freedom Convoy Freedom Convoy has been promoted and praised by various Fox News personalities and attracted support from former president Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

“This is an unprecedented demonstration. It has significant levels of fundraising, coordination, and communication. They have command centers established here and across the country and beyond this country,” embattled Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said.

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