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Ontario declares an emergency over truck blockades in Canada

Ontario Premier Doug Ford
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency Friday.

Ontario’s premier declared a state of emergency Friday in reaction to the truck blockades in Ottawa and at the U.S. border and said he will urgently press for new legislation cracking down on those who interfere with the free flow of goods and people.

Since Monday, scores of truck drivers protesting Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions and railing against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have bottled up the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor to Detroit. And hundreds of others have paralyzed downtown Ottawa over the past two weeks.

Premier Doug Ford said he will convene the provincial cabinet on Saturday to enact orders that make it “crystal clear” it is illegal to block critical infrastructure.

“We are now two weeks into the siege of Ottawa,” Ford said. “It’s an illegal occupation. It’s no longer a protest.”

Separately, the mayor of Windsor planned to ask for an injunction Friday afternoon to try to break up the bridge blockade, as parts shortages caused by the protest rippled through the auto industry on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Federal, provincial and local authorities have hesitated to forcibly remove the self-proclaimed Freedom Convoy protesters there and elsewhere around the country, reflecting apparently a lack of manpower by local police, Canada’s reverence for free speech, and fear of a violent backlash. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens warned earlier this week that some of the truckers are “willing to die.”

But the pressure to reopen the bridge appeared to be mounting, with Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda closing auto plants or canceling shifts because of parts shortages, and the Biden administration urging Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end the blockade. Michigan’s governor likewise called on Canadian authorities to quickly resolve the standoff.

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