One day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to break up anti-vax protests shutting down Canadian cities and border crossings, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a Republican, attempted to recruit Canadian truckers to the U.S. “Quick note to Canadian truckers being fired and now targeted as ‘terrorists’ by your woke government: The USA has a trucker shortage AND a work visa program,” he wrote in a Tuesday tweet that included a link to the H-2B visa information page on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website.
Trudeau, in a statement issued Monday, said his use of emergency powers was about “keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs, and restoring confidence in our institutions.” The announcement came after a Friday conversation between the prime minister and President Joe Biden, who informed his Canadian counterpart that the border blockades were causing U.S. auto plants to shut down due to shipping delays. Trudeau is the first Canadian prime minister to declare a state of emergency during peacetime since his father, Pierre Trudeau, did so 50 years ago.
Despite the Emergencies Act, Freedom Convoy protests in parts of Canada are still dragging on. This includes Ottawa, where truck drivers have parked their rigs and set up camps in the middle of the capital’s streets for more than two weeks. In response to mounting frustration from Ottawa’s residents, Canadian public safety minister Marco Mendicino urged police to exercise the new powers granted to them by the Emergencies Act. “We have given new powers to police, and we need them to do the job now,” he said on Monday. Yet one day after Mendicino’s remarks, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly reportedly resigned amidst public outrage over the inaction of local authorities.
Elsewhere in Ontario, police were able to end the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the Canadian city of Windsor to Detroit and serves as the most important trade route along the U.S.–Canada border. During a Tuesday press conference, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative premier, Doug Ford, praised law enforcement for clearing the Ambassador Bridge but urged the government to put an end to the other sources of gridlock. “It’s critical that all levels of government work together. It’s critical that our police forces have every single tool needed to resolve the situation and restore order,” said Ford, whose province includes Ottawa and Windsor. He went on to say that he does not “care about the politics” right now and urged the government to only use the emergency powers in an “extremely targeted” manner. “I believe in freedoms and liberties in this country, and I’d never ever want to squash that,” Ford added.
In Alberta, truckers blockading a road that runs into Montana began voluntarily leaving on Tuesday. Marco Van Huigenbos, one of the protest’s organizers, claimed the blockade was “infiltrated by an extreme element” after Royal Canadian Mounted Police made 13 arrests Monday and seized firearms, body armor, and ammunition during a morning raid of three trailers that preceded the Emergencies Act invocation. “Our objective was to be here peacefully,” Huigenbos said. “To keep that message going, we want to peacefully leave [the border town] Coutts and return to our families.”
The Emergencies Act allows the Canadian government to clear protesters from certain areas, enlist the military and towing businesses to remove vehicles blocking the streets, and freeze the bank accounts of protest organizers without a court order. Organizers of the so-called Freedom Convoy have raised millions of dollars on crowdfunding sites—with funds pouring in after the American right took notice of their protest. Fox News stars Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham have featured nonstop fawning coverage of the protests over the past weeks, while Donald Trump Jr. and Senator Rand Paul have encouraged Americans to start Freedom Convoys and blockade U.S. cities.
However, this wave of funding ginned up by U.S. actors will likely be meaningless. “The government is issuing an order with immediate effect under the Emergencies Act, authorizing Canadian financial institutions to temporarily cease providing financial services where the institution suspects that an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations,” said Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, on Monday. Freeland also announced that crowdfunding websites will be required to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, a government agency that tracks money laundering, the financing of terrorist organizations, and other illegal ventures.
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