Police standoff with Ambassador Bridge protesters; protests continue across Canada

Police in Windsor, Ont., moved in on convoy protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge Saturday as protests continue in major cities across Canada.

Windsor Police, as well as officers from other agencies, have been stepping up enforcement and moving in on the convoy protesters who have blocked the Ambassador Bridge for the past six days.

“The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge. We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time,” the Windsor Police Service tweeted on Saturday morning.

The protesters have been calling for an end to all COVID-19 restrictions. Since Friday night, the roads leading up to the bridge in Windsor, Ont., have seen a heavy police presence consisting of local officers, the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and other agencies.

Just after 8 a.m. Saturday, police officers showed up on buses and fanned out across the base of the bridge. Plainclothes officers also spoke to some of the protesters in vehicles, asking them to leave.

A line of police officers began slowly pushing the remaining protesters back away from the bridge shortly before noon on Saturday.

Large, armored police vehicles were seen behind the officers, who stopped their advance by shortly afternoon.

Police now remain in an apparent standoff with protesters, with more demonstrators arriving throughout the afternoon.

Police say they are actively enforcing parking in the area of the protest, with vehicles being ticketed and towed. At least one vehicle near the demonstration area was removed, which police say was at the owner’s request due to a mechanical issue.

Windsor Police Deputy Chief Jason Bellaire said on Saturday afternoon that no arrests have been made.

An Ontario Superior Court judge granted an injunction to remove the demonstrators, which went into effect at 7 p.m. on Friday. Ontario Premier Doug Ford also declared a state of emergency and protesters who refuse to comply may face fines up to $100,000 and up to a year in prison.

The Ford government also adopted an emergency order in council on Saturday morning, giving the province the power to revoke drivers’ licenses, license plates, and commercial vehicle registrations for anyone blocking highways and other critical infrastructure.

CTV News Windsor’s Michelle Maluske reported from the scene that some protesters had begun to pack up and leave ahead of police moving in to enforce a court injunction, while others remain defiant in the face of fines and jail time.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CTV News Channel on Saturday afternoon that he expects the situation to resolve this weekend.

“At the end of the day, if folks are just absolutely unwilling to leave, police will have to do what is required to remove them so we can get this border crossing open,” he said.

The blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing, has already caused supply chain woes. Several automakers, such as Toyota and Ford, have had to run on reduced capacity due to a lack of parts.

“Everyone in the city understands and appreciates the importance of having the Ambassador Bridge open because so many families in my community rely on smooth and efficient border crossings to put bread on their table,” Dilkens said.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati told CTV News Channel on Saturday that after two years, everyone shares the frustration around pandemic restrictions.

“But we don’t all share the idea and support of all the tactics being utilized,” he said.

With four international border crossings in the Niagara region, he said he is watching the situation closely.

Reuters has reported that a convoy of motorists in the U.S. plans to head to the waterfront in Port Huron, Mich., across the border from Sarnia, Ont., while two more convoys will converge on the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., across from Fort Erie, Ont.

Diodati says he hopes all levels of government will come together to deal with the situation collectively and through diplomacy, so it doesn’t get worse.

Along with supply chain issues, he says families in the region also rely on tourism, which has been devastated after two seasons.

Asked about whether he believes mandates should be dropped, Diodati says he is ready, at the very least, to have a schedule in order to start doing so.

“Nine out of 10 Canadians are vaccinated, that’s about as good as it’s going to get,” he said. “I think it’s time to move on now, for everybody.”


Meanwhile, in Ottawa, police expected a surge of trucks, vehicles, and people to join the approximately 400 vehicles in the downtown core on Saturday.

Police have alleged that demonstrators were aggressive toward officers overnight on Friday, saying they were “refusing to follow directions, overwhelming officers, and otherwise subverting enforcement efforts.”

Police said in a media release Saturday morning that 140 criminal investigations are underway, while officers have made more than two-dozen arrests and handed out more than 2,600 tickets alongside bylaw officers in the city.

A stolen vehicle bound for the protest was also seized, police said, making it the second stolen vehicle linked to the occupation.

Police also said they are working with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation on a truck violation initiative, which has so far resulted in three vehicles being taken out of service and 10 charges.

Residents reported hearing loud music and horns throughout Friday night as the protest continued in downtown Ottawa. CTV News producer Mackenzie Gray said protesters held a party on the streets of downtown Ottawa, complete with a DJ, a massive screen, and professional audio equipment.

Protesters also took apart the fence that had been barricading the National War Memorial. The fence was set up after some convoy participants had danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, parked vehicles at the grounds of the memorial, and even urinated on the cenotaph two weeks ago.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay called this “completely unacceptable.”

“Fences were put up to prevent the flagrant desecration and disrespect of our sacred monuments. This behavior is disappointing and I’m calling on protesters to respect our monuments,” he tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

A statement from the Royal Canadian Legion criticized the removal of the fencing, saying the “reported inaction by those charged with safeguarding the site was deeply disturbing.”

Thousands of people participated in a counter-protest four kilometers from Parliament Hill. The city of Ottawa, meanwhile, is seeking a court injunction to stop the noise, idling, and fireworks in the demonstration zone.


A few hundred people gathered near the Ontario legislature on Saturday in support of the convoy protests.

Police closed the road that encircles Queen’s Park to vehicles, as well as “hospital row,” an area home to several hospitals. Police have said they will “not tolerate” encampments or vehicles being used to block roadways.

After closing portions of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, two major highways that cut through Toronto, to prevent trucks and other vehicles from reaching the downtown core, police reopened the roadways later Saturday afternoon.

Convoy supporters, as well as counter-protesters, held demonstrations at a park in Montreal. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has asked protesters to remain peaceful and noted that the city is still under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

In the New Brunswick capital of Fredericton, around 300 people on Friday honked horns and waved signs and Canadian flags in front of the provincial legislature, protesting COVID-19 public health measures.

Protesters also descended on Halifax for a demonstration in the Nova Scotia capital.

Out west, protesters continue to blockade border crossings in Emerson, Man. and Coutts, Alta. The Canada Border Services Agency says it is currently unable to provide services at the Coutts border crossing due to the blockade.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the provincial legislatures in Winnipeg and Edmonton. The City of Edmonton received an interim injunction so police could respond to noise complaints during the convoy demonstrations, although it appeared to have little effect as horns blared throughout the demonstration.

On Friday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney ruled out imposing emergency measures similar to the ones implemented in Ontario.

“We already had stronger laws than Ontario. Last year, we passed the Defensive Critical Infrastructure Act that gives the police enormous powers and very stiff fines and penalties, including the power of imprisonment,” Kenney told CTV’S Question Period on Friday.

Protesters also have staged demonstrations near the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C.

Source: CTVnews.ca

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