$100,000 fines, jail time coming to Ambassador Bridge and Ottawa protesters

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Protesters blocking the Canada-U.S. border at the Ambassador Bridge and occupying downtown Ottawa will face $100,000 fines and up to a year in jail under new penalties being introduced as Ontario declares a state of emergency.

Referring to Ottawa’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ standoff as a siege and illegal occupation, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the new measures will apply to those who block goods, people and services along critical infrastructure including borders, 400-Series highways, airports and railways. Other penalties will include seized personal and commercial licenses.
“We cannot have people occupying cities, holding them hostage, holding millions and millions of people hostage to go their jobs,” Ford said in a press conference on Friday.

“It’s time to leave.”

Convoy supporters have since Monday night blocked Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge, which typically handles about 7,000 commercial vehicles a day, forcing shipments to divert about 100 km to the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia. Several automakers have had to scale back production as a result. Truck drivers redirected to Sarnia have at times been delayed four hours or more.

“Ninety-nine percent of the truckers out there right now are working their backs off to put food on our table, to make sure parts get to the factories,” Ford said, noting that just five trucks are among personal vehicles blocking the Ambassador Bridge. “That’s not representative of our truckers.”

The Stellantis assembly plant in Windsor is one of those that has had to scale back production because of supply chain disruptions linked to protests on the Ambassador Bridge. (Photo: Stellantis)

Ford stressed that he supports the right to peaceful protests, but that such rights are within reason.

Ottawa enforcement

Windsor and Ottawa police have already been joined by Ontario Provincial Police to aid in enforcement efforts.

Close to 400 vehicles continue to block Ottawa streets in an area identified as the red zone that has been occupied since the Freedom Convoy and related protesters arrived Jan. 29.

Police and bylaw enforcement officers in the nation’s capital have issued more than 1,550 tickets, while Ottawa Police are now warning of criminal charges and truck seizures for blocking city streets. Tickets for some related penalties have increased to $1,000 fines. Injunctions have also been issued against sounding horns and police have seized some fuel supplies, although protesters have been seen defying those orders.

Enforcement efforts have also been hampered by the fact that there are children in as many as one in four of the trucks, according to Ottawa police.

Blocking donations

Other efforts are targeting fundraising. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has cleared the way for the provincial government to freeze millions of dollars in donations though a Christian crowdsourcing platform known as GiveSendGo. Those were contributed through Freedom Convoy 2022 and Adopt-a-Trucker campaign pages.

GiveSendGo appears unfazed. “Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds at GiveSendGo. All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign,” it said through Twitter.

That’s in stark contrast to the GoFundMe crowdsourcing platform, which after releasing $1 million in donations for fuel and lodging costs linked to the Ottawa convoy, locked protesters out of close to $10 million in donations, citing platform policies against violence and harassment.