Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday said he had sought emergency powers to end protests that blocked border crossings and central Ottawa because the standoff posed an economic threat that was hurting ties with the US.
Authorities have promised to clear out hundreds of truckers who have paralysed central Ottawa, an act Trudeau had earlier called a threat to democracy.
A video by a CBC reporter showed two buses of police arriving in the central core of Ottawa yesterday morning, although there was no immediate sign of a move to clear protesters.
Police started to erect fencing around some government buildings.
Trudeau invoked the little-used Emergencies Act on Monday, giving his Liberal government a wide range of additional temporary powers.
“The blockades and occupations are illegal. They’re a threat to our economy, the relationship with trading partners, they’re a threat to supply chains and the availability of essential goods like food and medicine,” Trudeau told the House of Commons.
While the demonstrators initially protested against cross-border Covid-19 vaccine mandates for truckers and pandemic restrictions, they have made clear their opposition to Trudeau and some say they want to kick him out of office.
“I ain’t going anywhere,” one of the protest organisers, Pat King, said. “I haven’t overstayed my welcome. My taxes paid for me to be here.” Local residents have pleaded with the protesters to leave and shortly before the interview, a man shouted at King to go home and pushed him before police separated the two men.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have also sent in officers, and public broadcaster Radio-Canada said the province of Quebec was preparing to provide police.