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Ontario declares a state of emergency to end 'siege' in Ottawa and Windsor

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in an effort to put an end to the “siege” in Ottawa and Windsor as the truck convoy protests continue to disrupt traffic and prevent the transport of goods across the Canadian border.

Ford made the announcement Friday at Queen’s Park, saying he will convene cabinet and “use legal authorities to urgently enact orders” that will protect international border crossings, as well as the 400-series highways, airports, bridges, ports and railways in the province.

Fines for non-compliances will be severe, the premier said, with a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment.

The premier said the orders will “make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.”

The province will also be providing “additional authority” to take away the personal and commercial licenses of those who do not comply.

“While these emergency orders will be temporary, we have every intention to bring new legislation forward that will make these measures permanent in law. We are taking the steps necessary to support our police as they do what it takes to restore law and order,” Ford said at the news conference.

The protests in Ottawa have surpassed the two-week mark, forcing the mayor to declare its own state of emergency last weekend, while the blockade in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge has been ongoing since Monday.

The demonstrators say they are against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 measures currently in place.

Speaking on Friday, the premier made it clear the new measures will not impede on anyone’s right to protest—but also said the protests in Ottawa and Windsor have gone on too long and are now impacting the economy of the province.

“We are now two weeks into the siege of the City of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that is what it is. It’s an illegal occupation,” Ford said. “This is no longer a protest. With a protest, you peacefully make your point and you go back home, and I know that the vast majority of people did that. They came, they peacefully demonstrated, they made their point and they left.” And I want to say to those people, you have been heard, Canada has heard you.”

“My message to those still in Ottawa, to those at our border crossings, please go home.”

Ford noted that the government does not direct police, but rather makes laws for the province.

The initial state of emergency declaration will last for 42 hours, the solicitor general later clarified, and cabinet will meet on Saturday to further amend it if need be.

The premier also confirmed Thursday the province successfully applied for a court order to freeze the distribution of donations raised through online fundraising for the convoy, who are protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 measures.

An application is also set to be heard by the Ontario Superior Court for an injunction that would prevent protesters from blocking the Ambassador Bridge.

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