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Canadian official threatens "severe" consequences for truckers protesting COVID mandates along border

Canadian judge orders end to trucker blockade
Canadian judge orders end to trucker blockade 02:11

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the government will take urgent action against the truckers protesting COVID-19 protocols along the U.S.-Canadian border. The weeks-long demonstrations have blocked a busy bridge between the two countries, sparking concern from international leaders about economic impacts and the potential of similar protests emerging elsewhere.

"Let me be as clear as I can: There will be consequences for these actions," Ford said Friday at a press briefing. "And they will be severe."

Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario due to the occupation, which he called a "siege of the city." He said protestors could be subject to noncompliance fines of up to $100,000, a year in prison and loss of personal and commercial drivers licenses. 

"We have every intention to bring new legislation forward that will make these measures permanent in law," he said. 

Funds for the demonstrations, staged by the so-called "Freedom Truck Convoy," are frozen by the government, Ford said, and additional resources have been provided to Ottawa police.

Also Friday, a Canadian judge ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the U.S.-Canadian border and carries 25% of all trade between the two countries, to end their 5-day-old blockade that has disrupted the flow of goods, the Associated Press reports.

The judge said the order would go into effect at 7 p.m. local time, and local police immediately warned that anyone blocking the streets could be subject to arrest and their vehicles may be seized. The news was met with defiance by protesters, according to the AP.

For nearly two weeks, demonstrators in Ottawa have parked hundreds of trucks near parts of the Canadian capital. The truckers said that they will not leave until all vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions in Canada are lifted. 

The demonstrations also prompted Ford Motor Company and General Motors to shut down operations at certain facilities near the border. The car company warned that the "interruption" could "have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada."

"This is no longer a protest," Ontario's premier said. "With a protest, you peacefully make your point and go home." 

Ford said the demonstrators have held the city "hostage" and pleaded with them to leave.

"Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living," he said. "It does not outweigh our right to get food across our borders. Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the rights of a million people in Ottawa to live peacefully, free of harassment and chaos in their own homes." 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on Twitter Friday, writing "The border cannot, and will not, remain closed. Every option is on the table. So, if you're participating in these illegal blockades that are taking our neighbourhoods and our economy hostage, it's time to go home - especially if you have your kids with you."

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