Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he is declaring a state of emergency in response to ongoing blockades in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.
He says he will enact orders making it “crystal clear” that it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.
Ford says that includes protecting international border crossings, 400-series highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways.
He says fines for non-compliance will be up to $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment.
A protest against COVID-19 measures has immobilized Ottawa’s downtown core for nearly two weeks while another on the Windsor side of the Ambassador Bridge has blocked Canada-bound vehicles from using the border crossing for days.
Ford says the past two years have not been easy and frustrations have reached a boiling point for many Canadians. But, he said, the illegal occupations in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge need to end.
“To those who have attempted to disrupt our way of life by targeting our lifeline for food, fuel and goods across our borders, to those trying to force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation and chaos, my message to you is this – your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living,” Ford said at a news conference.
“It does not outweigh our right to get food across our borders. Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the rights of one million people in Ottawa to live peacefully, free of harassment and chaos in their own homes.”
Ford also says public health restrictions in response to COVID-19 have helped protect hospitals from collapse and saved many lives, but notes that now the chief medical officer of health is working on a plan to end the vaccine certificate system.
—The Canadian Press