Update: Police arrested two of the leaders of hundreds of truckers who clogged the streets of Canada’s capital Thursday, standing their ground and defiantly blasting their horns as police threatened to break up the nearly three-week protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, the AP reports, noting that a "showdown" appears imminent. “I’m prepared to sit on my ass and watch them hit me with pepper spray,” said one of the leaders, Pat King. As for the trucks parked bumper-to-bumper, he said: “There’s no tow trucks in Canada that will touch them.” Our original story from Wednesday follows:
Police in Ottawa have told protesting truckers and their supporters that it's time to hit the road. Protesters blocking downtown streets in the Canadian capital were told Wednesday to "leave the area now," the BBC reports. Leaflets distributed to truckers by police warned that arrest was possible, saying: "The people of Ottawa are being denied the lawful use, enjoyment, and operation of their property and you are causing businesses to close. That is mischief under the criminal code." The Ottawa Police Service said it was working with the Mounties and provincial police on a "clear and actionable plan to bring about a safe and peaceful end to the unlawful protests underway in downtown," reports the Ottawa Citizen.
Another notice issued later Wednesday told truckers that they could face penalties including the seizure of their vehicles and the cancellation of their driver's licenses. Peter Sloly, the city's police chief, stepped down on Tuesday, the day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the federal government's emergency powers. Sloly's failure to act decisively against the "Freedom Convoy" protesters had been strongly criticized. Interim Police Chief Steve Bell said Wednesday that "every step will be considered and methodical" when officers move to end an occupation by anti-vaccine mandate protesters that has lasted nearly three weeks.
story continues below
"Some of the techniques we are lawfully able and prepared to use are not what we're used to seeing in Ottawa, but we are prepared to use them and whatever means necessary to bring about the safest outcome and restore order," Bell said, per CTV. In a statement, the Ottawa force said it's aware that numerous protesters brought their children with them and it has "a plan to ensure children are protected and cared for during any action." The last remaining border blockade, at Emerson, Manitoba, ended Wednesday, reports the BBC. Blockades in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta had already been cleared. (More Canada stories.)