Police in Ottawa threatened protestors with arrest on Wednesday if they continued to block off the downtown area of the city.
“You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking of streets, are committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested,” police authorities said.
“You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges,” they continued. “The people of Ottawa are being denied the lawful use, enjoyment, and operation of their property and you are causing businesses to close.”
Police also began ticketing multiple vehicles that were blocking the downtown streets.
This comes one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act in an attempt to end the Freedom Convoy protests in Canada’s capital.
The Emergencies Act, which is almost never used by the Canadian government, gives Trudeau the ability to cut the protestors’ funding and back up city law enforcement with federal forces.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau told the press on Monday. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
Trudeau’s choice to invoke the Emergencies Act has given Canadian banks the ability to freeze accounts suspected of being associated with funding the Freedom Convoy’s blockades, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland explained.
“We are making these changes because we know that these (crowdfunding) platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy,” said Freeland.
Canadian authorities believe that roughly half of the money being given to the protestors is coming from inside the United States.
Ontario had previously declared a state of emergency on Friday as 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 with critical infrastructure.”
Ford also said that he will pursue new legal action against the protestors, which may mean hefty fines and jail time.
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.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said that the government would not back down on the issue.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the (2021) 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.