Ford declares state of emergency to end border blockages, Ottawa ‘siege’

Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province in an attempt to end costly border blockages and what he called the “siege” in Ottawa.

By Michael Talbot and Michael Ranger

Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province in an attempt to end costly border blockages and what he called the “siege” in Ottawa connected to COVID-19 vaccine mandate protests.

“Today, I am using my authority as Premier of Ontario to declare a state of emergency in our province,” Ford said Friday morning.

“And 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.”

Ford said punishment for non-compliance under the new rules will swell to a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment.

“We will also provide additional authority to consider taking away the personal and commercial licenses of anyone who doesn’t comply with these orders,” he added.

Saying Ontario’s economy is “built on trade” Ford cited the monetary implications of the trucker protest at the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit.

“The Ambassador Bridge in Windsor alone sees $700 million of two-way trade every single day. And that trade employs hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who work in auto plants and factories across our great province.”

“Those jobs feed millions of families. They are a lifeline for our province and its economy.”

“I call it a siege because that is what it is”

While stressing that all Ontarians retain the right to peacefully protest, Ford said the situation in Ottawa has extended beyond reasonable limits, saying the city has been taken “hostage.”

“We are now two weeks into the siege of the City of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that is what it is. It’s an illegal occupation.

“This is no longer a protest,” he said. “With a protest, you peacefully make your point and you go back home.

“Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the rights of one million people in Ottawa to live peacefully, free of harassment and chaos in their own homes. So, let me be as clear as I can. There will be consequences for these actions and they will be severe.”

Toronto police Chief James Ramer said the new emergency orders would be carefully reviewed ahead of more possible protests in Toronto this weekend.

“This declaration includes orders that will strengthen our ability to protect public transit, ambulatory and medical services, municipal roadways, pedestrian walkways, among other areas,” Ramer said.

“We will be reviewing these orders carefully and providing up-to-date operational direction to our members for this weekend.”

On Thursday night Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefed all the opposition leaders on the escalating situation and urged them to denounce the “illegal blockades and occupations happening across the country.”

Trudeau also posted on Twitter that federal officials would continue working with provincial and municipal governments to end the protests, which he warned are “hurting jobs, businesses, and our country’s economy.”

Ford tweeted Wednesday that he spoke with Trudeau and they both agreed “this must come to an end.”

Late Friday afternoon, the Ontario Superior Court granted an injunction preventing protesters from blocking the Ambassador Bridge border crossing.

The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association and Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association applied for the injunction, suggesting that many of their members have been shut down temporarily due the a shortage of parts from a lack of delivery. The City of Windsor was granted intervener status in the application.

The Attorney General of Ontario was granted that same status, and said that not all forms of protest are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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