Ontario provincial police mobilized outside downtown Ottawa on Thursday to prepare for a promised crackdown on protesters that have paralyzed the Canadian capital for three weeks.
Early in the morning, police officers were seen leaving a convention center near the airport, where they had gathered, and boarded a vehicle. The police car, which had filled a large parking lot, began to leave.
Five city buses were seen idling on a street adjacent to the convention center, before police officers boarded at least two which were traveling west of the city.
Ottawa police officers patrolling the entrance to the parking lot would not confirm why they gathered there.
Under the soggy morning rain, construction workers spent the dawn hours erecting a 12-foot-tall wire fence around the downtown Capitol building. Protesters prepared for police action. Among them was Andrew Broe, who said truckers exchanged messages with protest leaders. He said their instructions were to stay in their van, lock the door and not open it to anyone, including the police.
The protests began with a loosely organized group of truckers protesting demands that they be vaccinated if they travel from the United States into Canada. With the help of word sorting right-wing activiststhey emerged as a broader movement protesting against a range of anti-pandemic measures and in general to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
If the crackdown goes ahead, it could help end a crisis that has undermined Mr. Trudeau’s ability to lead and disrupted local residents and the local economy. Truckers and their supporters have blocked key border crossings and other roads, impeding commerce, and shutting down carmakers’ factories. Several streets were blocked off and harassed residents in Ottawa, creating a round-the-clock symphony there in quiet residential areas.
While many protesters come from fringe groups, others are people fed up with the restrictions of the pandemic. Physical violence is very rare.
With each passing day, Ottawa residents and many Canadians have grown impatient with the slowness of police response, and earlier this week the Ottawa police chief resigned amid criticism of enforcement. law.
Mr. Trudeau took the rare step of this week to declare a national emergency of public order to end the protests. The move extended stronger policing measures across the country and targeted fundraising by protesters, which is considered a criminal activity, as well as personal and business bank accounts. protesters’ careers.
It has been half a century since the last time emergency powers were introduced in Canada.
On Wednesday, during a special meeting of the City Council, Steve Bell, Ottawa’s interim police chief, said officers now have the resources and plans to end the protest. He did not discuss the timing or details of the plan, stating the reasons for the operation, but said officers were ready to use tactics “unlike what we are used to seeing in Ottawa,” as a part of “legitimate” escalation.
“We will take back the entire downtown area,” Mr. Bell said. “We have a good plan, well-resourced, to end the occupation.”
The police also started send written notices to protesters in Ottawa on Wednesday warned those remaining to leave the area or face penalties.
Some protesters were led by their dogs, and Ottawa city officials on Thursday warned that if protesters were separated from their pets during a police action, the animals Their case will be in protective care for eight days, at their expense, and will be “deemed released” thereafter.
On Tuesday, police charged four people with conspiring to kill police officers, part of a group of 13 charged. violent response planning if police tried to break the blockade of a border junction between Alberta and Montana in the Canadian village of Coutts.
Across the country, there were signs the protests were losing their breath as government leaders and law enforcement officials, who were initially reluctant to act, took a hard line. more solid.
Border blockades ended in Windsor, Ontario, connecting Detroit; at Coutts; and, on Wednesday, in Emerson, Manitoba, across North Dakota, among others.
Sarah Maslin Nir contribution report.
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/17/world/canada-ottawa-protests-news Protests in Canada: Live updates – The New York Times