Police on Wednesday ordered protesters who blocked the streets of Ottawa to leave or face criminal charges, seemingly setting the stage for a crackdown aimed at ending the protests. The love affair rattled the nation’s capital for weeks and resonated around the world.
The impetus to halt pro-country demonstrations intensified this week after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police, said on Tuesday that four protesters in Alberta had been arrested. Conspiracy to kill RCMP police officers. Police officials said those detained in a small cell in the province plan to use violence if officers try to break a now-disbanded blockade in Coutts, a rural village Southern Alberta borders Montana.
An arsenal of weapons – including 13 shotguns, handguns, a machete, multiple suits of armor, as well as large amounts of ammunition and magazines – was discovered by police in a trailer in Alberta on Monday morning .
The RCMP said 13 people were arrested, ranging in age from 18 to 62. In addition to charging four with attempted murder, police charged most of the remaining protesters with weapons possession.
The arrests in Coutts and the warning in Ottawa come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week has made his most aggressive move yet, claims national emergency aims to end protests that began nearly three weeks ago against vaccine demands, but have turned into a battle against pandemic restrictions in general and against his prime ministership .
Trudeau’s introduction of the Emergencies Act is the first time in more than half a century that a Canadian government has taken such a drastic step. Police officials around the country are now able to seize trucks and other vehicles used in protests – although most of the most disruptive blockades or protests, aside from Ottawa, have been overpower or overtake on Wednesday. The prime minister said it would ban protests “beyond lawful opposition” and that the government would officially blockade designated areas such as border gates, airports and the capital.
In what appeared to be a prelude to quelling the Ottawa protests, the Ottawa Police Department on Wednesday distributed leaflets warning protesters to leave or risk arrest.
“You must leave the area now,” Ottawa Police Department said in a statement and in leaflets distributed to the protesters. “Anyone who blocks the road, or assists others in the way, is committing a crime and you could be arrested,” the warning said. “You must immediately cease other illegal activities or you will face charges.”
The statement added that anyone coming to Ottawa to join the protest would also be breaking the law.
But on Wednesday, protesters remaining in the capital showed defiance.
Andrew Broe, 52, a truck driver from Trenton, Ontario, took the flyer from police and threw it into the bonfire he was tending to in a box to keep warm on the street outside the building Congress. “It’s partially encouraging,” he said, referring to the flyer. “They’re pulling out of a straw to try to get rid of a peaceful protest.”
Denis Brown, 57, who says he quit his job providing tech services because he doesn’t want to get vaccinated for travel, is circulating his own message on a piece of paper: Politics should be arrested, it said.
At a news conference on Wednesday, protest organizers called for more protesters to flock to Ottawa to help with police efforts to quell the occupation.
But many Canadians’ patience with the protests is dwindling. The country’s image of peace and order has given way to scenes of truckers shouting “freedom”, honking horns, confronting police and, in some cases, mocking masked residents. . The blockades have weakened the economy, while the protests have damaged Canada’s reputation on the global stage as a country of stability.
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Opinion data released this week by the Angus Reid Institute, a leading polling group, shows that nearly three-quarters of Canadians say it’s time for protesters to go home.
“If the goal of the Freedom Convoy is to capture the attention of millions of people in Canada and around the globe – then mission accomplished,” Angus Reid said. “However, if the goal was to build support for their demands to end pandemic-related restrictions – then that has completely backfired.”
Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly resigned this week amid criticism that the police and Mr. Trudeau’s government were ineffective and slow to prevent disruptions.
While trucks continue to disrupt traffic and disrupt daily life in Ottawa, there have been signs in recent days that the protests and blockade appear to be easing.
Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, said on Wednesday that three of the main crossings were previously obstructed by protesters – in Coutts, Alberta; Surrey, British Columbia; and the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit – now open. The Ambassador Bridge is an important supply route for the global automotive industry. On Wednesday, the RCMP said the border blockade at Emerson, in the province of Manitoba, has also been lifted.
“For those who are thinking of going to Ottawa this weekend, do not,” Mendicino said, warning that those who do so risk engaging in criminal activity.
Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting from Ottawa.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/world/canada/ottawa-protesters-police.html Ottawa protesters protest Beat for a Suppression