WATCH Canadian truckers defy court injunction, maintain border blockade
Canadian protesters opposing Covid-19 curbs and vaccine mandates have defied a court injunction and government warnings to maintain their days-long blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which has paralyzed trade and traffic at the busiest land border crossing into the US.
According to videos circulating on social media, demonstrators overwhelmingly voted to continue occupying access roads to the bridge minutes before Friday’s order by the Ontario Superior Court took effect at 7pm local time. The protesters can be heard singing the Canadian national anthem afterwards, with some in the crowd shouting “Freedom!” and waving Canadian flags.
Between 100-200 people had reportedly crowded the entrance to the bridge leading up to midnight when the state of emergency declared by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday kicked in. Police officers, who have been given sweeping powers to detain and fine people who refuse to disperse, handed out pamphlets that outlined penalties, including some Can$100,000 in fines (US$78,000) and a year in prison.
#Ontario Judge orders Freedom Convoy truckers to clear the Ambassador Bridge by 7 p.m. or risk arrest. "Vehicles may be seized".Anyways, Freedom Convoy protesters votes to stay on the #AmbassadorBridgeBlockade and defy #Trudeau. pic.twitter.com/oDe1y4hcak— Alfonso Poza (@alfonso_poza) February 12, 2022
The blockade at the bridge, which connects the city of Windsor in Ontario to Detroit, Michigan, began on Monday, feeding off the ongoing Freedom Convoy trucker protests in Ottawa against vaccine and quarantine mandates for cross-border drivers. At least two other access corridors between the two countries, in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba, have also been similarly blocked.
Describing the border blockades as “unlawful activity,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday that “everything is on the table” when it comes to the government’s options to end the protests.
He said the situation was still “a long way” from having to call in the military, but warned that the government needed to “be ready for any eventuality.”
The court ordered injunction at the Ambassador Bridge has kicked in, and there's more people gathered than at any time since the blockade began, hold the line 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/B4rOZCOtio— Adalia Brand (@BrandAdalia) February 12, 2022
Trudeau’s comments came after a conversation with President Joe Biden about the need for urgent action to reopen the border crossings. US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg previously called on their Canadian counterparts to “use federal powers” to lift the blockade.
Following the court injunction, Windsor police had warned that non-compliance with the order to disperse would result in arrests and vehicle seizures, but there have been no reports about people being detained. It remains unclear how and when authorities would begin issuing fines and other measures.
Meanwhile, Ottawa city officials said on Friday that they too would seek a court injunction to evict protesters from the capital.