Ontario declared a state of emergency on Friday as the Freedom Convoy, or “Trucker Protest,” continues its protest against Canada’s vaccine mandates.
Premier Doug Ford told the press that he “will convene Cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of good, people and service along critical infrastructure.”
Ford also said that he will pursue new legal action against the protestors, which may mean hefty fines and jail time.
The situation at Canada’s capital has reached an intense point where both Canada and the United States economies are suffering due to the truckers’ blockades at the countries’ borders.
Ford’s declaration for Ontario province follows Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s declaration for the city last week.
The protest by the Freedom convoy has blocked much of the center of the Canadian capital. The protesters, who first reached the capital on January 29, have parked their trucks on city streets and put up tents and temporary shacks, paralyzing the capital.
“(This) reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” Watson said in a statement on Sunday.
Freedom convoy protest in Ottawa against vaccine mandate
The protests began by truck drivers angry with the vaccine mandate for crossing the US-Canada border but have evolved into broader protests against COVID-19 health restrictions and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Ottawa police warned on Sunday that anyone attempting to bring material support to the demonstrators would be subject to arrest.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on Sunday that the government would not back down on the issue.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the  election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said on CBC television.
“This group [the Freedom convoy] is a threat to our democracy,” City Council Member Diane Deans said of the protesters on Saturday. “What we’re seeing is bigger than just a City of Ottawa problem, this is a nationwide insurrection. This is madness.”
The Freedom convoy’s protest has attracted support from many Republicans south of the border, including former President Donald Trump.