Ontario Judge Orders Truckers to End Blockade of Bridge

Premier declares state of emergency in the province
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 1:42 PM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2022 5:05 PM CST
Ontario Leader Calls State of Emergency Over Trucker 'Siege'
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at a news conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Jan. 12, 2021.   (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Updated: This file has been updated with the injunction issued in Ontario. After nearly two full weeks of protests in Ottawa and other Canadian cities, Ontario's premier has a message for the protesters. "It's time to end these occupations and go home," Doug Ford said in a Friday statement, announcing he was declaring a state of emergency in the province. Per NBC News, Ford told reporters that what's going on "is no longer a protest" but an "illegal occupation" and a "siege" of downtown Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge that links Windsor to Detroit. The protests were started by a convoy of truckers opposed to the country's COVID-19 mandates and protocols.

A court agreed with Canadian officials Friday afternoon, ordering protesters to end their blockade of the Ambassador Bridge. Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz put the injunction, sought by Windsor's mayor, into effect at 7pm to allow demonstrators to leave the bridge area on their own, per the New York Times. The judge said the protesters' actions in the name of freedom are denying freedom to other people, per CNN. "We're dealing with millions of dollars of damage each and every day," he said. The court order provides police with enhanced authority to end the protest.

Ford said he plans to convene the provincial Cabinet on Saturday to discuss next steps. "Let me be as clear as I can: There will be consequences for these actions, and they will be severe," Ford said, per the AP. “This is a pivotal, pivotal moment for our nation.” Those who refuse to leave face a maximum penalty of $100,000 and a year behind bars, not to mention the possible stripping of commercial and personal licenses. "Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living," said Ford.

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Traffic at the bridge due to the "Freedom Convoy" has been blocked or severely slowed for the better part of a week, causing auto plants on both sides of the border to shutter or cut back production, and disrupting economic flow between the US and Canada. "In Michigan, our economic momentum is at risk because commercial traffic is at a standstill," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Friday statement. Meanwhile, Ottawa on Thursday still looked like a "raucous party," per the New York Times, which notes that big rigs remain parked in the middle of the capital city's streets, with hundreds of people wandering around. (More state of emergency stories.)

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