Canada‘s Freedom Convoy movement is finding creative ways around the government’s attempt to slow down protests throughout the capital city of Ottawa by circling the arrival and departure lanes at the city’s airport.
The anti-vaccine mandate protesters made their way to Ottawa International Airport on Thursday, still angry at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for smearing them as ‘a few people shouting and waving swastikas,’ while Ottawa police have threatened to arrest some truckers without warrants.
The protests have already led to 23 arrests and over 80 criminal investigations, but police are warning the truckers and their allies that more may be coming and sent out a ‘message to demonstrators.’
The Ottawa Police Service said those found to be engaging in criminal activity – which includes ‘blocking streets’ or assisting those who do – could be arrested without a warrant and could potentially have their vehicles seized and forfeited.
‘You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges,’ the Wednesday notice reads. ‘You could be arrested without a warrant for this offence if you are a party to the offence or assisting others in the direct or indirect commission in this offence.’ Whether or not someone is released on bail depends on factors in ‘Part XVI of the Criminal Code,’ authorities added.
Ottawa police had issued a warning earlier Monday that ‘anyone found bringing fuel to the demonstration trucks in the red zone could be subject to arrest and charges.’
In the process of heading to the airport on Thursday, the convoy shut down both directions on the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit, Michigan, to Windsor, Ontario. The bridge typically sees about 8,000 trucks pass through daily and accounts for 25 percent of trade between the two countries.
The city of Windsor said Thursday it would seek a court order to remove the blockade and the protesters.
‘The economic harm that this occupation is having on international trade is not sustainable and it must come to an end,’ Mayor Drew Dilkens said.
Trudeau expressed similar sentiments at a Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ) session Thursday, slamming both the protesters and Conservative Party Interim Leader Candice Bergen.
‘The leader of the Conservative Party and her team have been their biggest champions,’ he said. ‘The consequences of these actions are having dire impacts. They’re impacting trade, they’re hurting jobs and they’re obstructing our communities.’
Three Toyota plants in Canada are to cease production for a week due to the truck drivers’ protests and blockades, and the General Motors plant in Delta Township, Michigan, which is 92 miles from the border, has canceled its second production shift due to supply chain issues. Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the momentum of the state’s growing economy is at risk and urged that the bridge – the busiest land border crossing in North America – be reopened.
Bergen called for the protesters – whom she said were ‘passionate, patriotic and peaceful’ – to go home on Thursday, citing similar economic concerns to Trudeau.
‘The economy you want to see reopened is hurting,’ she said. ‘You protested because you love your country and you want your freedoms back. That message has been heard.’
She said the Conservative Party would take up their fight in the House of Commons and, as if to prove it, tabled a motion that would demand Trudeau to move Canada to a ‘post-COVID’ society.
On Thursday, Truckers arrived at the airport in Ottawa just past 8 a.m. and began driving through the arrival and departure lanes in a loop and honking their horns. An organizer for the protest said they plan to stay for ‘hours.’
The pivot to airport protests comes after a 10-day injunction was granted by a judge banning horn-honking in downtown Ottawa. The airport protests would work around that as the airport is unaffected by the ban.
A spokesperson for Ottawa International Airport said that about 60 to 70 light trucks were circling and advised travelers to give themselves extra time.
Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials believe a similar movement could be headed to the states around Super Bowl Sunday this weekend that could run from California to Washington, D.C.
‘Airport traffic is already extremely light due to the pandemic so the impact so far is minimal,’ Krista Kealey said. ‘We are monitoring the situation with our security and airport policing teams and advise anyone who is traveling today to give themselves extra time to get to the airport.’
The spokesperson then spoke negatively of the protest movement disrupting air travel.
‘We are very disappointed that the protesters have chosen to disrupt an industry that has already been decimated by the pandemic,’ she said.
‘Disrupting our airport will hurt people who are already suffering, including passengers and employees who rely on our industry for their livelihood and wellbeing.’
Police in Ottawa have also issued a warning that protesters blocking downtown streets could be arrested without a warrant and charged criminally, according to the Telegraph.
Protests did go on in Downtown Ottawa Thursday, with even children holding up signs backing the movement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is hearing rumblings that the protests could arrive stateside around Super Bowl Sunday.
DHS is warning law enforcement and public safety that a ‘prolonged trucker convoy’ protesting vaccine mandates could begin on February 13, when the Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.