- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Canadian truckers blocking thoroughfares to protest COVID-19 mandates have not backed down despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of unprecedented authority to clear protests throughout the country.

The “Freedom Convoy” remained entrenched in Ottawa through Tuesday, facing arrest and seizure of their trucks under Canada’s Emergencies Act as authorities focused on clearing key border crossings into the U.S.

One of the truckers who led the first convoy into the nation’s capital city said demonstrators remain undeterred.

“Whatever [Mr. Trudeau] throws at us we can handle,” Harold Jonker told DailyMail.com. “We have been getting from the public an outcry of hope, joy and excitement because of what we are doing here.”

Mr. Trudeau invoked emergency powers Monday to dismantle protests that have gripped the country since late January.

The Emergencies Act gives Canada’s federal government broad authority to crack down on protesters, though Mr. Trudeau has ruled out using the military.

Mr. Trudeau is the first Canadian leader to invoke the Emergencies Act since the law was enacted in 1988.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also announced that the government will crack down on crowdfunding sites used to support the protests under broadened anti-money-laundering regulations.

The escalation was criticized by some Canadian officials and by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which said the move is an overreach to silence dissent.

“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives,” the CCLA said in a statement Tuesday. “Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.”

The move also drew fire from some U.S. lawmakers.

“Just as leaders abused emergency powers during COVID, they’re now using emergency powers to prevent peaceful protests,” said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. Paul, a staunch opponent of COVID-19 mandates in the U.S., said last week that he wants to see truckers in the states stage a Canadian-style protest, saying he hopes they “clog things up” with a demonstration against pandemic mandates.

President Biden urged Mr. Trudeau last week to use federal powers to quell protests after demonstrations at U.S.-Canada border crossings began impacting the already frail supply chain.

Late last week, police began clearing a blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, a key border crossing with Michigan, that had forced U.S. auto manufacturers to cut production due to parts shortages.

Earlier this week, authorities began clearing the Coutts, Alberta, border crossing into Montana.

On Monday, Royal Canadian Police (RCMP) seized a cache of weapons and arrested 13 and seized a cache of weapons in connection with the blockade.

The RCMP said Tuesday that four protesters at the Coutts border crossing had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in addition to weapons possessions charges.

Demonstrators began clearing the crossing as police moved in, and Canada’s minister of public safety announced Tuesday afternoon that the Coutts border crossing had officially reopened.

But Mr. Jonker said truckers in Ottawa remain undeterred.

‘What Trudeau is trying to do is scare us more than anything. Because at the end of the day he has no means to actually shut us down,” he said. “No matter what he tries to do, the Canadian public right away adjusts how they support us, and they will support us.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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