OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he is lifting the declaration of a public order emergency 10 days after he invoked never-before-used extraordinary powers to end border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by so-called “Freedom Convoy” protesters.
Trudeau told a news conference that invoking the law and extraordinary police powers had been “the responsible and necessary thing to do.”
He said it was a “turning point” in ending the risks to trade and public safety.
“People were being harassed, small businesses closing, factories were shutting down, trade was halted at our border, here in Ottawa and in other places in the country.”
Shorty after Trudeau’s announcement, Premier Doug Ford moved quickly as well to end Ontario’s state of emergency.
“In alignment with the federal government, Ontario will be terminating its declaration of a state of emergency as of 5 pm today. The emergency tools provided to law enforcement will be maintained at this time as police continue to address ongoing activity on the ground, ”Ford said in a statement issued by his office.
“We remain grateful to all front-line officers and first responders that contributed to peacefully resolving the situation in Ottawa, Windsor and in other parts of the province.”
The moves came four days after Ottawa’s downtown core was cleared of more than 400 semi-trucks, SUVs and pickups, thousands of posters and placards, and the remnants of an encampment that took hold Jan. 28, complete with fire pits, barbecues, hawkers selling protest merchandise, food, a makeshift stage that turned into a DJ-led dance party on the weekends.
Ottawa police, Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP all said they used and needed the powers to clear the blockade, especially measures that allowed police to compel tow trucks into service, travel limits and the ability to declare a huge part of downtown a “secured zone.” ,” and financial measures that freeze accounts and cut off funding to key organizers of the protests.
But Winnipeg police on Wednesday said they’ve given orders to a similarly entrenched group of protesters to clear the Manitoba legislature, and say they have not used and don’t anticipate needing to resort to the federal emergency powers.
RCMP cleared a blockade in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing before the act took effect. But Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told the Star on Sunday that the powers were used to prevent other copycat blockades from popping up at Windsor as well as Surrey, BC
On Monday, the House of Commons voted to approve Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act with the support of the New Democratic Party, over the objections of the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois.
The Senate had not yet voted on the exceptional measures.
Federal finance officials told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that the RCMP and financial institutions had begun to unfreeze accounts of organizers and participants now that the “illegal” blockades were ended.
Last week, a far-right influencer and convoy organizer named Pat King — who is now in police custody facing a string of charges relating to the occupation of Ottawa — told protesters to “retreat” in the face of police action to remove them from the downtown core and “regroup” at a truck stop in Arnprior, about 65 kilometers northwest of the capital.
On Wednesday, the remnants of a group of convoy protesters congregated south of that town in a windswept field on the side of a rural road. A cluster of about two dozen vehicles — a far cry from the hundreds that blocked streets around Parliament Hill for more than three weeks — was parked about a hundred meters into the field, some with Canadian flags flapping from their truck beds. Signs of family settlement from the Ottawa occupation included a large white tent and a line of beige porta-potties.
A woman in her truck at the entrance prevented the Star from accessing the property. She said they would not allow “mainstream media” into the area to speak with people there.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION