After three weeks of protests, Ontario’s provincial police appeared to be preparing to crack down on the demonstrators by mobilising outside Ottawa’s city centre Thursday.
After a convention centre near the airport had been used for their gathering, police officers were spotted getting into their vehicles in the early morning hours. The cops began to disperse from a large parking lot.
At least two police officers boarded the city’s west end-bound buses after they sat idle on a street adjacent to the convention centre for five minutes.
A group of Ottawa police officers stationed at the parking lot’s entrance refused to say why they were there.
Construction workers in the early morning rain erected 12-foot-high wire fencing around downtown’s Parliament building. Anti-police protesters were preparing for a showdown. There was Andrew Broe, a trucker who said he had been exchanging text messages with protest leaders.
He told them to stay in their vehicles, lock the doors, and not open them for anyone, including the police.
To start the protests, a loosely organised group of truckers objected to a vaccination requirement when crossing into Canada. Using the help of right-wing activists, the movement grew to include a wide range of pandemic measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
For Mr. Trudeau’s leadership to be undermined and the local economy to be disrupted, it would be beneficial if the clampdown were to take place. Automakers were forced to idle their plants due to truckers’ blockade of major border crossings and other routes. Some people in Ottawa blocked streets and harassed residents, resulting in a nonstop cacophony in otherwise quiet residential areas.
Despite the fact that many of the protesters belong to fringe groups, others are simply tired of the pandemic restrictions that have been imposed on them. There has been little to no violence.
Ottawa residents and many Canadians have grown increasingly frustrated with the police response, and the city’s police chief resigned earlier this week amid criticism of the force..
To put an end to the demonstrations, Prime Minister Trudeau took the unusual step of declaring a national public order emergency. Protest fund-raising, which has been labelled a criminal act, as well as the demonstrators’ personal and business bank accounts were targeted as part of the move.
It’s been 50 years since emergency powers were used in Canada, so it’s about time.
Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell told the City Council on Wednesday that the force has all it needs to put down the protest. Police officers are prepared to use tactics that “are not what we’re used to seeing in Ottawa,” he said, citing operational reasons, as part of a “lawful escalation.”
Mr. Bell declared, “We’re taking back the entire downtown core.” This occupation can be ended with a well-resourced strategy, according to the president.
Police in Ottawa also started handing out warning letters to remaining protestors on Wednesday, threatening penalties if they didn’t vacate the area.
It was on Tuesday that four people were charged with conspiracy to murder police officers as part of a group of 13 people charged with planning a violent response if the police attempted to break up an Alberta and Montana border crossing blockade at Coutts.
After initially being reluctant to take action, government leaders and law enforcement officials have taken a steadily tougher stance on the protests across the country.
The border blockades in Windsor, Ontario, which connects to Detroit, Coutts, and Emerson, Manitoba, which crosses into North Dakota on Wednesday, have all been lifted.