Canada Live Updates: Ontario Premier Declares a State of Emergency as Authorities Brace for More Protests

Canada Live Updates: Ontario Premier Declares a State of Emergency as Authorities Brace for More Protests


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Protesters snarled traffic in the capital, Ottawa, and continued blockades at some of the busiest routes linking Canada to the United States, demanding an end to vaccine mandates and coronavirus restrictions.CreditCredit…Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, declared a state of emergency for the entire province on Friday, as the police in Ottawa brace for thousands of protesters to descend for the third consecutive weekend of a crisis that has disrupted international supply chains.

In Windsor, Ontario, along the border with the United States, Mayor Drew Dilkens is seeking a court order to allow him to remove protesters from the Ambassador Bridge, across which roughly a third of U.S.-Canada trade travels. The Windsor City Council has authorized the city to request an injunction “to bring about an end to this illegal occupation,” Mr. Dilkens said, and a hearing is set for noon on Friday.

“The individuals on site are trespassing on municipal property,” he said Thursday, and if necessary “will be removed to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods across the border.”

The crisis took root two weeks ago, when loosely organized groups of truck drivers and others converged on Ottawa to protest vaccination requirements for truckers entering Canada from the United States. The demonstrations, which include the blockade at Windsor as well as ones at other points along the border, have swelled into a broader battle cry, largely from right-wing groups, against pandemic restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Automakers have been particularly affected by the partial shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor and Detroit. Trucks cross it thousands of times a day carrying $300 million worth of goods, about a third of which are related to the auto industry.

In Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the scene on Thursday resembled a raucous party, with hundreds of people milling between the cabs of giant trucks parked in the middle of the street. The song “Life Is a Highway” pumped from loudspeakers set up on an empty trailer that has been converted into a stage.

But the crowd had thinned out somewhat, with empty spaces where trucks had been the day before.

“Some guys had to go back to work, and the police wouldn’t let us refill those spots,” said Johnny Neufeld, 39, a long-haul trucker from Windsor.

The Teamsters union — which represents 15,000 long-haul truck drivers in Canada, but generally not the ones involved in the protests — denounced the blockade and called on the demonstrators to end the disruptions, which have threatened thousands of jobs. The union said in a statement late Thursday that the protesters continued “to hurt workers and negatively impact our economy.”

The group has previously called on the demonstrators to disperse, but to no avail.

On Thursday, the government of Ontario secured an order from the Superior Court of Justice barring the distribution or use of donations collected for the protesters through the Christian fund-raising platform GiveSendGo, including more than $8.5 million raised by a campaign called “Freedom Convoy 2022.”

Funding efforts had moved to there after GoFundMe shut down campaigns raising money for the protesters. GiveSendGo, which is based in the United States, indicated late Thursday that it planned to defy the court order.

“Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo,” it tweeted. “All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

The protests have attracted the attention of far-right and anti-vaccine groups globally, raising millions of dollars online and inspiring copycat protests in at least two countries, New Zealand and Australia.

In a briefing this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the blockade threatened the auto industry given the Ambassador Bridge’s importance as a conduit for vehicles and parts. She said the Biden administration was also tracking potential disruptions of agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada.

General Motors canceled two shifts Wednesday and Thursday at a factory in Lansing, Mich., that makes sport utility vehicles, because the plant depends on components that normally travel across the bridge. Ford Motor and Toyota have also shut down some operations because factories could not get parts manufactured in Canada.

Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, said Thursday that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were sending additional officers to Ottawa and Windsor and to the border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, where protests are also underway. The Ottawa police have asked for an additional 1,800 officers.

Mr. Trudeau has ruled out sending in the army; there are very few precedents for doing so in Canada, which does not have provincial equivalents of a national guard. Late Thursday, he said he had convened an “incident response group” and briefed Canada’s opposition parties on the situation.

“We’ll continue to work closely with municipal and provincial governments to end these blockades, and to make sure they have the resources they need,” Mr. Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

An increased police presence in Ottawa was apparent on Thursday, with officers patrolling in groups of six to a dozen.

“I got my first ticket this morning at 5 a.m.,” Mr. Neufeld said, smiling as he held up a ticket for 130 Canadian dollars (about $103) for stopping in a no-stop zone. “This is a souvenir.”

Some in the protests have clearly been on the fringe, wearing Nazi symbols and desecrating public monuments. Others have described themselves as ordinary Canadians driven by desperation.

Another protest may be planned near the Super Bowl in Los Angeles on Sunday, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The New York Times.

Shashank Bengali and Ian Austen contributed reporting.

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