Freedom Convoy receives an ultimatum
On Wednesday, police in the Canadian capital Ottawa handed out flyers to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ truckers, ordering everyone to “leave now” or face arrest under PM Justin Trudeau’s emergency declaration. The truckers and their supporters have demonstrated for almost three weeks, demanding an end to strict Covid-19 mandates.
“You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking of streets, are committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested,” Ottawa police announced shortly before noon on Wednesday. Officers handed out fliers with the same message to the protesters and put them on the windshields of vehicles parked in front of the Canadian parliament.
Protesters face arrest, fines, jail, and could have their commercial or even private drivers’ licenses revoked, the police said.
While the warning is almost the same as the one the city’s police issued last Wednesday, the new announcement includes language specifically referring to travel restrictions in the Federal Emergencies Act. The law was invoked by Trudeau on Monday, for the first time in Canadian history – and the law it replaced had only been used during the two world wars and a 1970 terrorism crisis.
The crackdown comes just a day after Ottawa Police chief Peter Sloly resigned. The official reason police cited for removing the truckers is that they are committing “mischief” by denying the people of Ottawa “the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property” and “causing businesses to close.”
Governments of several Canadian provinces as well as civil rights groups have criticized Trudeau’s emergency declaration as heavy-handed. Provincial governments have also moved to lift the Covid-19 mandates and restrictions, which is what the protesting truckers have been asking for.