National emergency in Canada over nationwide illegal blockades
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After dozens of assault weapons and body armors were found at one of the many illegal border crossings blockades throughout Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first ever in the nations history.
"It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law," Trudeau told reporters at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
The so called Freedom Convoy started in Ottawa on January 29 as a protest movement against vaccine mandates, but has since then grown into a nationwide blockade. The majority of protestors have been non violent, however there has been reports of threatening behaviour, and harassments towards citizens wearing masks.
Invoking the Emergencies Act comes after the City of Ottawa already declared a State of Emergency, and recently also the entire Province of Ontario.
The Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act in 1988, and has never been invoked before.
PM Justin Trudeau stressed that the measures are temporary and restricted to 30 days. He also promised that it will not be used to call in the military.
The first actions on Monday under the new act was to use sweeping measures to restrict the flow of donated money to protesters, which have been channelled to the movement primarily through crowdfunding platforms.
By Tuesday, the number of trucks blocking the streets were down to 350, and the majority of the protesters on foot had left. However, the core of protesters remaining were dedicated to staying, despite the threats of fines,having their licenses and insurances revoked. Many protesters said openly to reporters that even the risk of imprisonment was not going to make them move their vehicles.
According to CBC News, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino tried to assure Ottawa residents Tuesday that the "chaos in the city will end soon" as local law enforcement, with the help of the federal police force RCMP, " will work around the clock to restore order".
Police will allegedly soon establish "no-go" zones in the city's downtown core to control the crowds protesting the vaccine mandates, according to the minister. People who defy orders to leave could be charged with both fines and time in jail.
Mendicino said authorities will move with "great rapidity" to erect more concrete barriers. Removing such big vehicles require specialized equipment, and operators have been reluctant to do the work due to the high degree of tension among protestors. The minister said he will continue to press private tow truck companies into removing the big transport trucks that have taken over Ottawa's streets for over three weeks now.
Already on the weekend, the illegal blocking of the important Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor was cleared and opened for traffic. However, the "siege" of the Capital of Ottawa continues, and as more and more borders crossings are attempting to be blocked by protestors, police have in many cases been outnumbered.
On Tuesday morning, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly resigned after criticism for his handling of the demonstrations, which are now entering their third week.
On Tuesday, the border crossing between Surrey, BC and Blaine, WA was cleared from protestors by police. Police have been ramping up their efforts since assault rifles "intended to be used for murder" was found in a demonstrator´s vehicle at a border crossing in the province of Alberta on Monday.
Already on the weekend, the City of Ottawa struck a deal with moderate elements among the demonstrators to move their big trucks out of the city core, to designated legal protest areas. Many hard line demonstrators however, still refuse to move, despite threats of removing drivers´ licenses and vehicles insurances.
During the beginning of the week, the rhetoric of politicians and commentators has been raised from calling demonstrations "illegal blockades" to naming elements within the Freedom Convoy movement as more along the lines of "organized terrorism".
Security experts warned on Monday that the counter demonstrations, which citizens in primarily Ottawa, but also other affected cities have organized, could turn the already tense situation violent.
A data hack on Monday of the fundraising platform used to fund demonstrators revealed amounts of large foreign donations - possibly indicating that the protests in Canada are linked to a larger international movement, and most likely also linked to demonstrations in Europe.
The more radical elements among the organizers - who allegedly are the orchestrators behind "Freedom Convoy" - have been very clear that the intent of the demonstrations is violent, armed revolution against the Trudeau government. The most extreme and violent revolutionary ideas , however, do not likely represent the majority of the protestors on the streets.
Freedom Convoy has so far costed Canada several billion dollars in loss of business, trade with the US and policing efforts.