Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made history on Monday when he invoked the Emergency Act for the first time to grant law enforcement extraordinary powers to end "Freedom Convoy" protests that have been sweeping cities to their west since Canada's prairies Economy have engulfed Center. in the East.
The passage of the radical transitional law is the Canadian leader's most defiant response to protesters since demonstrations began in late January. "We will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue," Trudeau said during a news conference Monday.
Canada's "freedom convoy" began when a group of truckers drove from Canada's west coast to the nation's capital, Ottawa, to protest COVID-19 vaccination requirements for truckers. Ordinary Canadians, fed up with pandemic restrictions, have also joined the movement in recent weeks, with some saying the mandates have cost them their jobs and affected their families.
Truckers blocked bridges and border crossings, costing US $500 million in daily trade. Meanwhile, protesters brought Ottawa to a standstill, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency.
Despite the government's harsher response, protesters have vowed to continue their fight until officials lift all COVID restrictions across the country, although several provinces have already started lifting some. The movement has also evolved into a broader anti-government and anti-Trudeau revolt, with many protesters calling for more demonstrations until the PM's resignation.
Here are the latest developments on the Freedom Convoy protests.
The lockdowns have taken a heavy economic toll on the country, costing an estimated $500 million a day in trade losses, according to Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. Daily surveillance costs in the capital, Ottawa, rose to $800,000; and the city's mayor, Jim Watson, last week requested additional police and community services, which Global News said could add up to $2.5 million to daily costs.
On Sunday, Ontario police cleared the last of the protesters from the Ambassador Bridge and reopened the border crossing that connects Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, which had been manned for six days. About a quarter of all trade between the United States and Canada crosses the bridge, which Reuters estimates moves about $360 million in cargo every day.
The failures of the Ambassador Bridge hit the automotive industry particularly hard. About $141 million worth of auto parts cross the bridge every day, according to research firm IHS Markit, meaning the sector faces losses of up to $988 million from the week-long lockdown. On Tuesday, Ontario Police said at least 46 people have been charged with 90 crimes related to the Ambassador blockade.
Canada's Prairie provinces have also been a major rallying point for protesters and border blockades. For the past two weeks, protesters with farm equipment and semi-trailers have occupied the Alberta border crossing that leads to Sweet Grass, Montana; in addition to the border crossing between Emerson, Manitoba and Peminba, North Dakota.
Canada implemented the emergency law in part over protesters refusing to leave border posts in Alberta and Manitoba. But the action prompted protesters to continue blocking and disrupting commercial traffic at the two locations despite the new rules.
On Monday, the blockade took a darker turn when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada's federal police force, seized a "large cache of weapons" including pistols, ammunition and a machete from a fringe group of protesters linked to Alberta-Montana. Blocking. On Tuesday, four Canadians were charged with conspiracy to murder, and at least a dozen others were charged in court with weapons and mischief. RCMP officers were targeted by the accused, RCMP Chief Superintendent Trevor Daroux said. “[We] acted immediately. That threat was very serious," he said.
The demonstrators took the arrests as a signal to leave. On Tuesday, after an 18-day lockdown, protesters honked tractor horns and exited the Coutts site and a smaller lockdown near the town of Milk River.