Officials in the Canadian province of Ontario and city of Windsor took legal and political steps to end a major blockade spurred by the “freedom convoy” COVID-19 mandate protests. The blockade is severely limiting travel on the Ambassador Bridge, known as the largest land crossing between the United States and Canada.
“The Ambassador Bridge represents a full one third of the trade between Canada and the United States, and the ongoing occupation is having a profound impact on the economic well-being of both the Canadian and American business life and families,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said at a Thursday news conference.
At that news conference, Dilkens announced he is seeking a court injunction to end the Freedom Convoy blockade. According to the city’s website, a hearing over the injunction is set for Friday afternoon.
“These individuals on site are trespassing on municipal property and if need be will be removed to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods across the border,” Dilkens said. “The economic harm that this occupation is having on international trade is not sustainable, and it must come to an end.”
On Friday, Ontario’s premiere declared a state of emergency over the Freedom Convoy blockade. The city of Ottawa had already declared a state of emergency. Premiere Doug Ford also pledged new legal action against protesters, including fines and potential jail time for non-compliance with the government’s orders.
“I 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,” Premiere Ford said. “Let me be as clear as I can. There will be consequences for these actions, and they will be severe.”
The moves come amid reports from the White House that the Biden administration is pushing Canadian officials to end the “freedom convoy” blockade. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have spoken with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff.
It’s not just U.S. and Canadian officials who are dealing with truckers’ protests. Drivers from numerous cities across France began heading toward Paris to defy a police order not to enter the city. In response, thousands of police officers have begun setting up checkpoints at toll stations in order to keep the protesters out.