Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province Friday and said truckers protesting COVID-19 rules will face “severe” consequences if they do not disperse from Ottawa and other locations.
Officials on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border are increasingly worried about economic shocks from the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge near Detroit.
“My message to those still in Ottawa, those still in our border crossing, to those who brought their children: Please take them home. And it’s time to do so peacefully,” Mr. Ford said at a news conference.
He said protesters who continue to block critical infrastructure and the movement of goods will face severe consequences, including a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in prison. Violators could also face the revocation of personal and professional licenses.
Provincial officials and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are scrambling to corral protests that have stretched into the third weekend.
The protest began as a demonstration against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on truckers but expanded into a general protest over pandemic rules, upending parts of Ottawa as they’re clogged with trucks.
SEE ALSO: US conservative figures cheer on Canadian trucker protest
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is seeking a court order that would expand police powers near the Ambassador Bridge.
“I get that this injunction would be a single piece of paper, but it gives police more weight in the actions that they are prepared to take, and they will do what is operationally required to move people out,” Mr. Dilkens said.
If the court order is granted, tow trucks and equipment would be brought in to get the trucks out of the way.
U.S. and Canadian officials said the protests, which also blocked key border crossings in Manitoba and Alberta, are forcing automakers to send home workers because they cannot get necessary parts.
Mr. Ford told protesters they’ve made their point so it is time to disperse.
“Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of thousands of workers to make a living,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Ontario mayor seeks court order to remove trucker protest from border crossing