Police warn protesters to leave Canada’s capital


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Ottawa (AFP) – Canadian police on Wednesday warned protesters opposed to Covid rules who have clogged Ottawa streets for nearly three weeks to leave or face arrest, fines and the seizure of their trucks.

Federal authorities, meanwhile, have negotiated a peaceful end to the latest of several recent blockades by protesters of border crossings between Canada and the United States.

“You must leave the area now,” Ottawa police said in a notice distributed to truckers outside Parliament.

Anyone who blocks streets or helps others do so will be arrested and face charges, the statement said.

Police also warned that anyone charged or convicted of participating in the illegal protest could, in addition to criminal penalties, be barred from traveling to the United States.

As the notices were distributed, AFP journalists saw hundreds of trucks continue to occupy the streets of the parliamentary precinct, honking intermittently, despite an extension on Wednesday of a court order against noise deafening, obtained by a resident of the district tired of the disturbances. .

“We are still a lot of trucks holding the line,” truck driver David Shaw, 65, told AFP. If arrested, he added: “I will keep coming back.”

Fellow trucker Jan Grouin, 42, slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision earlier this week to impose a state of emergency, calling it “a bit of an overreaction maybe to think we’re terrorists “.

“It’s time for this to end”

Unable to dislodge the protesters, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, which gives the government sweeping new powers to end their weeks-long protest against Covid restrictions. This decision was only the second time in Canadian history that such emergency powers have been invoked in peacetime.

Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday that with police now receiving assistance from various other law enforcement units, they should now “be able to begin their actions.”

“It’s time for this to end,” he said, adding that it was up to “the police to decide when and how.”

On Tuesday, Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell said a “turning point” had been reached.

“I believe we now have the resources and the partners to safely end this occupation,” he said.

Ball replaced leader Peter Sloly who abruptly resigned after facing intense criticism for his failure to dislodge protesters.

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” began with truckers protesting mandatory Covid vaccines to cross the US border, but its demands have since grown to include an end to all pandemic health rules and, for many, an anti-virus program. larger establishment.

A protester poses with a police notice warning he faces arrest if he does not leave, handed out by authorities as the protest against Covid-19 health rules stretches into a third week Ed JONESAFP

At its peak, the movement also included blockades of half a dozen border crossings, including a key trade route crossing the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit.

Dozens of protesters were arrested and several vehicles seized during border police operations, and in Coutts, Alberta Federal Police charged four people with conspiracy to murder police officers. They were among 13 people arrested with a cache of weapons including rifles, handguns, body armor and ammunition.

On Wednesday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Paul Manaigre said the last blocked crossing – between Manitoba and the US state of North Dakota – would soon be open, after protesters agreed to leave.

“In no time they will be on their way,” Manaigre told reporters. “The result is what we wanted. No one was hurt. We have a highway that will open and trade can resume.”


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