Court empowers police to break anti-vax bridge blockade in Canada

Court empowers police to break anti-vax bridge blockade in Canada

As Ontario's premier on Friday declared a state of emergency over an ongoing trucker-led protest that has paralyzed commerce and transportation at a key crossing on the U.S. border, a judge in the Canadian province granted an injunction aimed at breaking the blockade.

According to the Windsor Star, Ontario Superior Court Justice Geoffrey Morawetz granted an injunction requested by the city of Windsor and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association in order to resume the flow of traffic and commerce at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit—the busiest international crossing in North America.

"The overwhelming evidence is that there is a complete blockage of the bridge, which you have conceded cannot be tolerated," the judge said. "It therefore follows, does it not, that there has to be some form of order?"

"We're dealing with millions of dollars of damage each and every day," he added.

The injunction is set to go into effect at 7:00 pm local time. Almost immediately after the ruling, police notified the "Freedom Convoy" demonstrators "that it is a criminal offense to obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property."

"We are providing notice that anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking of streets may be committing a criminal offense and must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges," an officer announced. "You could be arrested if you are a party to the offense or assisting others in the direct or indirect commission of this offense."

Also on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency over the protests, announcing he will "convene cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people, and services along critical infrastructure."

"Fines for noncompliance will be severe," said Ford, "with a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment."

The nationwide protests were launched on January 22 by truck drivers who oppose Canadian and U.S. mandates requiring them to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 if they want to cross into the United States. Unvaccinated truckers have the option of quarantining for two weeks.

The protests have since expanded, and now include people opposed to pandemic countermeasures such as mask mandates, lockdowns, and temporary bans on large gatherings. There is also a significant white supremacist presence at the demonstrations.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a nationwide association of truckers, says the protests do not represent the vast majority of the nation's truck drivers—90% of whom are vaccinated—and that many of the demonstrators are not truckers and "have a separate agenda beyond a disagreement over cross-border vaccine requirements."

The "Freedom Convoy" protests have garnered widespread right-wing support in North America—including from former U.S. President Donald Trump and far-right members of Congress and the media—and beyond.

On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that "if you joined the protests because you're tired of Covid, you now need to understand that you are breaking laws. The consequences are becoming more and more severe."

"We've heard you," he added. "It's time to go home now."

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