What a long, strange trip it’s been with the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, but the drama could be coming to a close. That is, if protesters follow the law and officers finally enforce it. Ottawa police Wednesday distributed leaflets to truckers promising arrest if they remained in the area.
Updated Thursday, February 17, 2022 8:00 a.m. - Protesters remain in Ottawa.
Updated Wednesday February 16, 2022 4:30 p.m. Convoy organizer Pat King released a video today urging police to join with protesters rather than arrest them.
“I’m speaking to each and every one of you right now, in the uniform. Back off. Stand down. Put your badge on the ground, turn it in, and stand with the people.”
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Here’s the notice in its entirety from the Ottawa Police Service:
You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges. If you are arrested you may be released on bail depending on factors contained in Part XVI of the Criminal Code.
The people of Ottawa are being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property and you are causing businesses to close. That is mischief under the Criminal Code.
Charges and/or convictions related to unlawful activity associated with the demonstration may lead to denial in crossing the USA border.
The Federal Emergencies Act allows for the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified area. This means that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law. The act also provides police with a number of measures including the ability to seize vehicles that are part of this demonstration.
Ontario law (EMCPA) now prohibits interference with any critical infrastructure including 400-series highways, railways, airports and international border crossings. It prohibits you from preventing someone from travelling to or from walkways, bridges and highways (other than 400 series highways) or preventing anyone from using them. It also prohibits someone from seriously interfering with the safety, health or well-being of members of the public.
Anyone who commits these illegal actions could face fines or be required to appear in court. Commercial vehicle drivers’ licences and private drivers’ licences can be suspended or revoked.
Ottawa residents are fed up with inaction from police, to the point that Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned from his position of the handling of the protest yesterday. Prime Minister Justin Trudea enacted the Emergencies Act this week in order to give law enforcement extraordinary though temporary powers to end the various blockades and sieges orchestrated by right wing groups under the Freedom Convoy banner. Police are able to seize vehicles involved in the protest and ban the blockage of everything from streets and border crossings. But as police handed out the flyers, they experienced pushback from drivers, according to the New York Times:
After the leaflets were handed out to protesters in Ottawa, a group of them near Parliament Hill asked police officers if they were going to be arrested. “If you’re given the order will you follow orders?” one of the protesters asked. Officers responded that for now they were not making arrests.
Denis Brown, 57, who quit his job as a technology service provider because he didn’t want to get vaccinated for travel, was circulating his own message on a piece of paper: The politicians should be arrested, it said.
The seriousness of the stand off was driven home this week after two protesters attempted to ram a Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle at the border crossing near Coutts, Alberta. While investigating, police found guns, ammo and body armor during the search of three protesters’ trucks. Thirteen protesters were arrested and four have been charged with conspiracy to murder police officers. Following those arrests the border reopened as the remaining protesters left the area.
This is a breaking story and we will update as we know more.