Ottawa police to convoy protesters: ‘ You must leave the area now’

Ottawa Police are issuing formal notices to Freedom Convoy protesters that it’s time to leave, warning of arrests and vehicle seizures.

“You must leave the area now,” the police service said in a notice posted Wednesday morning, as officers delivered the message from truck to truck. “Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges.”

Ottawa police
(Photo: istock)

Police are warning that charges and convictions linked to the demonstrations may also see protesters denied entry into the U.S.

Freedom Convoy protests were initially established after Canada and the U.S. introduced vaccine mandates for unvaccinated truck drivers, but quickly expanded to include demands against a wide array of pandemic-related measures.

“The Federal Emergencies Act allows for the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified area. This means that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law,” Ottawa Police added. “The act also provides police with a number of measures including the ability to seize vehicles that are part of this demonstration.”

It’s not the first time that police have warned about potential criminal charges, but it comes as the federal government introduces the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the protests. Ontario has also introduced penalties for interfering with critical infrastructure, such as fines up to $100,000, up to a year in prison, and suspended or revoked licences.

With the Emergencies Act, the federal government has introduced powers to compel tow truck operators to clear blockades, freeze protester bank accounts, suspend insurance coverage, and apply terrorist financing rules to crowdfunding companies that have supported the protests. A debate over the Act’s declaration was scheduled in the House of Commons for Thursday morning.

GoFundMe has already frozen about $10 million in donations, citing policies against violence and harassment. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has cleared the way for the provincial government to freeze millions of dollars through a Christian platform known as GiveSendGo. But the latter platform has said the government has no jurisdiction over it.

Speaking to Ottawa city council on Wednesday, interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said he was confident the resources are in place to end the protests.

“We are going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space,” he said. “We are going to remove this unlawful protest. We will return our city to a state of normalcy.

But he did caution it will take time, and that some of the techniques are not typically used in Ottawa.

Emerson blockade
Manitoba RCMP say a blockade at the Emerson border crossing is now clear. (Photo: Manitoba RCMP)

Hundreds of vehicles continue to occupy an area of the city that has come to be known as the red zone. But border blockades have been dismantled in locations such as Coutts, Alberta; Emerson, Man.; Surrey, B.C.; and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont.

  • This story has been updated to reflect the opening of the border crossing at Emerson, Man., and include comments from Ottawa’s interim police chief.

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  • Then get the gov and trucking companies to set min standards and a place that provides temporary housing for sick injured truck drivers and remove the vaccine mandate

  • As an actual truck driver doing his job, I say that it is about time that this craziness should come to an end. You still need to be fully vaccinated to go to the US.

    • I have no problem with the vaccines but the other issues of truck drivers treatment from. Bathrooms to overtime pay to safe parking to hours of service still are a major problem. I also drive when able to and left queens Park yesterday. I was told that many people have expired in the past 2 years that is because lack of proper food and proper medical supplies for the disabled homeless truck drivers.