Ottawa/CMEDIA: After all border crossings between Canada and the United States (U.S.) opened for the first time in more than two weeks of unrest, a few truckers’ protesters refused to budge from their spot and defiantly ripped up warnings issued by the police.
The Ottawa police had been warning the protesters that they could be prosecuted, lose their licenses, and see their vehicles seized under Canada’s Emergencies Act.
Police also began ticketing vehicles. But protesters in the trucks continued to honk their horns that echoed loudly in downtown Ottawa in spite of the second rebound of more explicit warnings just before Wednesday evening,
Interim Police Chief Steve Bell, who replaced the former police chief Peter Sloly this week following Sloly’s resignation, told the city council on Wednesday afternoon that the police plan “will take time” but Canadians can expect to see action “in the coming days.”
“This is an operation that will take time over a number of days…Every step will be considered and methodical,” he said. “Some of the techniques we are lawfully able and prepared to use…and whatever means necessary to bring about the safest outcome and restore order.”
“We are going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space. We are going to remove this unlawful protest. We will return our city to a state of normalcy,” Bell told city leaders in a statement. “You will be hearing and seeing these actions in the coming days.”
The federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino reportedly commented on Wednesday that several of the individuals involved in the blockade at the border crossing in Coutts, Alta., have strong links to a far-right extreme organization with Ottawa leaders.
The Ottawa Police has also issued notices to demonstrators.
“The OPS wants to inform you that under provincial and federal legislation, you will face severe penalties if you do not cease further unlawful activity and remove your vehicle and/or property immediately from all unlawful protest sites,” it tweeted.
The warnings came two days after the emergency law was invoked by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to try to stop the blockade.
Since late January, truckers have blocked the streets of Ottawa and obstructed border crossings, with a focus on Canada’s vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country.
On Wednesday, protesters who had stopped traffic and trade for a week along the U.S. border at Emerson, Manitoba, opposite North Dakota, pulled away in tractors and trucks without any arrests, and within hours, border officials said. that the crossing was fully open with no delays for commercial trucks.
In spite of organizers encouraging supporters to come to the capital, the nation’s top safety official warned them to stay away or face legal consequences.
In the meantime, more security fences were erected today around Parliament in Ottawa as a historic debate on national emergency was set to get underway.
Meanwhile, the premiers of two Canadian provinces and 16 U.S. governors sent a letter to Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden calling on them to end their nations’ vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border.