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

Protesters blocking the Canada-U.S. border at the Ambassador Bridge and occupying downtown Ottawa will face potential $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 do their jobs,” Ford said in a press conference on Friday.

“It’s time to leave.”

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice granted an injunction against the Ambassador Bridge blockade late Friday afternoon.

“That’s not representative of our truckers”

– Ontario Premier Doug Ford

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 [protest] is not representative of our truckers.”

The protesters are targeting an array of pandemic-related measures, and have in particular targeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, even though many cited measures are enacted provincially. Canada introduced a vaccine mandate to border-crossing truckers Jan. 15, while the U.S. mirrored those rules Jan. 22.

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

Stellantis manufacturing plant
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)

“The trucking industry applauds Premier Ford’s action to implement measures that make it very clear what the consequences are for blocking and impeding the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure in the province of Ontario,” said Ontario Trucking Association president Stephen Laskowski. “OTA will also be working with the Government of Ontario to permanently enshrine such measures in legislation so these illegal acts can be dealt with in the future without having to declare emergency measures.”

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.

Protests spreading

Provincial trucking associations have identified reports about other protests planned at border crossings and other key locations across Canada in coming days.

The British Columbia Trucking Association has heard about protests coming to Pacific Highway ports of entry and other crossing such as Sumas and Osoyoos.

In Alberta, an ongoing protest near the Coutts border crossing has reportedly opened a single lane, prioritizing southbound cattle trucks, the Alberta Motor Transport Association says. Further east, the Saskatchewan Trucking Association is reporting potential disruptions coming to the North Portal border crossing.

Meanwhile, blockades at Manitoba’s Emerson/Pembina crossing remains closed by protesters, although livestock shipments are being allowed to cross.

In Ontario, protests are also planned for the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie, while Toronto officials have closed off roads around the provincial legislature ahead of protests that could return there. A “multi-day event” could come to Fredericton, N.B., too.

  • This story has been updated to identify other protests planned this weekend, and an injunction issued against the Ambassador Bridge blockade.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.


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  • He can pass laws but not able to solve the problems with private nursing homes or homeless or proper medical treatment and supplies for sick truck drivers and P S Ws. I and others have offered to meet or talk by phone about the issues. I am not sure that many people who think the protesters should only closed one lane of a 2 lane road in each direction will do.?
    I would think we will get even more support and supplies. The Ford gov has had more than enough time to listen to truck drivers and other lower income workers but chose to ignore us.

  • Well, a “Christian” funding page obviously will have no difficulty in supporting a cause that’s violent, racist or threatening. Business as usual for the extremists on the right. Fake Christians complaining about fake news, supporting a fake president under fake morals.

    I particularly love how they condone activities such as blocking off airports and flooding 911 with false calls. These are criminal actions, potentially costing Canadians lives. These people could care less. They’re too selfish to care how their actions impact others.

    Exactly what we’ve all come to expect from extremists of any sort, but most recently from the far right, who view it as their right to bully and dominate anyone who doesn’t see the world through their green-tinted glasses. These are thinly veiled political terrorists, not religiously motivated. Religion is just the shell corporation that violence, ignorance and hatred hides behind.

    • He can pass laws but not able to solve the problems with private nursing homes or homeless or proper medical treatment and supplies for sick truck drivers and P S Ws. I and others have offered to meet or talk by phone about the issues. I am not sure that many people who think the protesters should only closed one lane of a 2 lane road in each direction will do.?
      I would think we will get even more support and supplies. The Ford gov has had more than enough time to listen to truck drivers and other lower income workers but chose to ignore us.

      Reply
      Christopher A McKay says:
      February 11, 2022 at 4:52 pm
      Well, a “Christian” funding page obviously will have no difficulty in supporting a cause that’s violent, racist or threatening. Business as usual for the extremists on the right. Fake Christians complaining about fake news, supporting a fake president under fake morals.

      I particularly love how they condone activities such as blocking off airports and flooding 911 with false calls. These are criminal actions, potentially costing Canadians lives. These people could care less. They’re too selfish to care how their actions impact others.

      Exactly what we’ve all come to expect from extremists of any sort, but most recently from the far right, who view it as their right to bully and dominate anyone who doesn’t see the world through their green-tinted glasses. These are thinly veiled political terrorists, not religiously motivated. Religion is just the shell corporation that violence, ignorance and hatred hides behind.

      • I live and volunteer with homeless and a disabled truck driver
        I did close down the airport
        I a d others camped out at queens Park from Jan 24cto March 17 of 2020 and nothing was done by the ont gov to fix the problems. Now rhey said today we should talk about the issues that affect truck drivers and P SWs besides the vaccines.

  • It seems that stopping the vaccine mandate, the point of the entire protest has been dropped from the conversation. Innoculating people against their will is clearly modern day tyranny and needs to be stopped, whether the vaccine is good or not.

    • You’ve had dozens of vaccinations, Tom.

      You’re just mad about a cotton mask. Talk about a 1st world problem.
      When you’re ready to adult and join society let us know.

  • What this protest has done, is show the world the true character of the Prime Minister and his lackeys. When things get tough he runs and hides instead of finding a solution.The world is laughing at him. Furthermore with the Ambassador bridge being blocked and the Emergencies Act being rolled out I have one question to you intellectuals. Who in their right mind is going to invest in Canada, knowing that the supply chain is that vulnerable? Not to mention that the government can and will seize bank accounts, just not personal but commercial and lines of credit. Never thought about that did you ladies? I don’t agree with what is going on with this country and feel that the sitting Prime Minister needs to go, he has trampled on the rights of all Canadians and his actions will haunt us for generations.