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Day 16 of the Freedom Convoy protests across Canada


Police deployed to remove the protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge at the border crossing between Windsor and Detroit, but hours later they were still there

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Another protest against COVID mandates sparked by the “Freedom Convoy” is expected in Toronto on Saturday. Police are preparing with road closures and tightened security in the area surrounding Queen’s Park.

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This comes as blockades continue at Canada-U.S. border crossings and in communities across the country, demanding that all COVID-19 mandates be lifted. On Friday, a court granted an injunction banning the blockade at Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. Also on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency that could see protesters in the province receiving large fines.

In Ottawa, where the protests first began weeks ago, hundreds of trucks and protesters still remain with no sign of leaving.

Canadians aren’t the only ones being impacted by the trucker convoy. It also fuelled protests around the world, from France to Australia. 

Here’s our coverage from today.

4:45 p.m.

In Windsor, the standoff between Canadian police and protesters blocking a key bridge to the United States continued more than seven hours after authorities moved in seeking to end the blockade of the important trade corridor.

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The crowd of protesters, however, had grown significantly, with new arrivals joining the street-party atmosphere on foot as police had blocked off access roads and were ticketing and towing vehicles parked nearby.

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Demonstrators opposing the government’s strict pandemic restrictions have occupied the Ambassador Bridge for the fifth straight day, snarling international trade and prompting President Joe Biden to call for an end to the siege. But there was still no sign when traffic would resume.

Protests are also continuing across British Columbia this weekend led by residents voicing their displeasure with pandemic-related mandates.

Protesters lined the streets of downtown Victoria sporting Canadian flags, holding signs and waving to honking vehicles doing laps around the provincial legislature.

Victoria police have said they were expecting traffic disruptions caused by “large protests” and have temporarily deployed closed-circuit TV cameras in the area to support “public safety.”

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4 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters are still occupying a stretch of Huron Church Road in Windsor, Ont., near the Ambassador Bridge.

Efforts to clear the area surrounding the bridge have hit a standstill, with more adults and children trickling in this afternoon.

Some people are playing music while others are chanting or honking horns. A drone is flying above the protest site.

Police officers are standing in a line and blocking the entrance to the bridge, with two armoured vehicles and police cruisers behind them.

The roadblock on Highway 4 towards the Coutts border crossing earlier this week. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
The roadblock on Highway 4 towards the Coutts border crossing earlier this week. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

In Alberta, the Canada Border Services Agency says services at the border crossing at Coutts, Alta. have been temporarily suspended.

A protest by people opposed to COVID-19 public health restrictions has impeded or outright blocked access to the normally busy border crossing for two weeks.

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The CBSA says in a news release that the ports of North Portal and Regway in Saskatchewan, and Rooseville and Kingsgate in British Columbia are the closest alternative processing sites for commercial traffic.

But it warns that “due to evolving circumstances” travellers should check the CBSA website for updates.

People block highway 75 with heavy trucks and farm equipment and access to the Canada/US border crossing at Emerson, Man., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
People block highway 75 with heavy trucks and farm equipment and access to the Canada/US border crossing at Emerson, Man., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Meanwhile, RCMP in Manitoba say an officer will be stationed at an access point to a hospital in anticipation of a protest on Highway 3 near Winkler and Morden today.

Police advise in a news release that if anyone gets caught up in a convoy while trying to access the Boundary Trails Health Centre between the two communities, they should call 911 for help.

A man from Morden said earlier this week that he was delayed for close to an hour on Highway 3 while trying to drive his 82-year-old sister to the facility, and a spokesperson for the Southern Health regional authority said ambulances were also delayed.

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Provincial RCMP also note that some traffic like emergency vehicles and agricultural trucks are being allowed to pass at a blockade near the border crossing at Emerson, Man. But all four lanes of Highway 75 at Provincial Road 200 near the community are blocked and motorists should avoid Emerson altogether.

3 p.m.

Police in Windsor, Ontario have begun to clear out people who’ve been blocking the Ambassador Bridge between Canada with Detroit. But traffic from Detroit to Windsor remains halted.

Officers in yellow vests gathered in rows near the bridge in Windsor, warning the protesters verbally they could face criminal charges if they continue to occupy roadways.

As police slowly backed protesters up Windsor’s Huron Church Road and away from the bridge, they were also shutting down streets throughout the city in an effort to keep more vehicles from joining the demonstration. They were creating an ever-widening perimeter around downtown and the neighborhood that holds the main demonstration site.

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Dozens of demonstrators have backed up but refused to leave. Tow trucks have arrived to move their vehicles. A number of the protesters moved to the middle of the roadway and began singing the Canadian national anthem. Some chanted “Freedom,” confronted officers or shouted profanities at them.

2:15 p.m.

Police in Windsor, Ont. Continued to push back protesters in one of the largest shows of force against the Freedom convoy in Canada.

Officers with the Windsor Police Service, the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police and others started moving in on the roughly 200 remaining protesters near the Ambassador Bridge around mid-morning. The officers were supported by two RCMP armoured vehicles and several police cruisers.

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The demonstrators fell back from the site, even as protesters who had gathered in other communities to resist vaccine mandates, pandemic-related restrictions and other issues watched via livestreamed video and shouted encouragement.

“Let’s go Windsor,” one supporter called over a channel on a messaging application used by the demonstrators. “Hold that line.”

A demonstrator holds a U.S. and Canadian flag during a protest by truck drivers over COVID-19 mandates, outside the Parliament in Ottawa on February 12, 2022. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)
A demonstrator holds a U.S. and Canadian flag during a protest by truck drivers over COVID-19 mandates, outside the Parliament in Ottawa on February 12, 2022. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

In Ottawa, hundreds of people and dozens of trucks remained dug in front of Parliament Hill and around downtown, where many have been parked since the end of January.

Protesters have torn down a fence that was erected around the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

The fence had been set up after the first weekend of demonstrations in the capital, when some protesters stood and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the memorial.

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Police stood by and watched as dozens of demonstrators tore down the fence before gathering around the monument dedicated to Canada’s war dead.

No one was seen standing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was covered in flowers, and it wasn’t immediately clear where the fence had gone.

People keep warm around a small fire near Parliament Hill, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
People keep warm around a small fire near Parliament Hill, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

At an intersection one block away from Parliament, demonstrators had taken over a parking lot and were blasting music as passersby danced. Trucks began honking their horns continuously in the area as police officers sat parked in nearby vehicles.

A stage had been set up on the street in front of Parliament Hill where a line-up of speakers was set to address the crowd.

The Ottawa Police Service reported some demonstrators “exhibited aggressive behaviour” by refusing to follow directions and even overwhelming officers.

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1 p.m.

Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts into which $1.4 million had been deposited in support of the protesters, a spokesperson said on Saturday.

Canadian police have said the protests have been partly funded by U.S. supporters and Ontario froze funds donated via one U.S. platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday.

Toronto was also bracing for a second weekend of protests. The Toronto Police have the downtown core locked down, not allowing vehicles near the provincial legislature at Queen’s Park.

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A few hundred people have gathered peacefully near the Ontario legislature. Armed with Canadian flags and placards, the crowd of varied ages cheered as one of the emcees said the event was about freedom.

Toronto Police block off roads around Queen’s Park as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Nick Iwanyshyn
Toronto Police block off roads around Queen’s Park as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Nick Iwanyshyn

Most of the placards target Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but one self-professed supporter of the People’s Party of Canada also voiced opposition to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Meantime, a convoy of motorists in the United States is planning to head to the waterfront in Port Huron, Michigan, in support of protesters in Canada. Another U.S. group said two separate vehicle convoys will converge this weekend at the Peace Bridge, another U.S.-Canadian border crossing in Buffalo, New York.

12:30 p.m.

Police in Windsor, Ontario are cutting off access to the Canadian-U.S. border by forming a line at an intersection just south of the Ambassador Bridge.

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The officers are slowly approaching the crowd of roughly 150 protesters, as they can be heard chanting “freedom,” in order to push them further from the site. Protesters remain despite the warning from police that their vehicles will be towed and that they can be charged with mischief if they block traffic.

Canadian police deploy to move protesters blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 12, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)
Canadian police deploy to move protesters blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 12, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

In Ottawa, there have been a total of 26 arrests — including two for public intoxication — as of Saturday morning. There are 140 active criminal offence investigations in relation to the demonstration, they said in a press release. There have been 2,600 tickets issued by Bylaw and Police Services. Ottawa police said they continue to deploy all of their resources in an effort to end the “unlawful demonstration” in the city’s downtown core.

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They said protesters displayed aggressive behaviour toward law enforcement overnight, “refusing to follow directions, overwhelming officers, and otherwise subverting enforcement efforts.”

Leader of the People’s Party of Canada, who joined the protest in Montreal, announced that he will be hosting a pancake breakfast in Ottawa on Sunday morning in support of the truckers.

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12 p.m.

Farm tractors and other vehicles started blocking the lanes of an intersection in the City of Cornwall on Saturday morning. The group had slowed down access to the city coming out of the Canada-U.S. port of entry earlier the same day. They were led by some of the same organizers of a convoy from Alexandria (roughly a 40-minute drive from Cornwall) to Ottawa last weekend.

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, police say an ongoing protest against COVID mandates remains peaceful.

“We are pleased to report that the overnight hours were uneventful. There were no criminal offenses,” they said in a Twitter post on Saturday.

They said organizers were being respectful and agreed to remain inside a designated safe zone.

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Some streets were closed to traffic and barricades were adjusted to provide additional space.

11:15 a.m.

Windsor police say there have been no arrests made at this time. They said enforcement continues and anyone who is “located within the demonstration area are subject to arrest,” advising everyone to leave the area. Meanwhile, there are armoured vehicles by Ambassador Bridge, and snipers were reportedly on the roof of a nearby building.

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11 a.m.

In Paris, France, motorists and protesters started flocking to the city on Friday as police upped their presence, bringing in heavy-lift equipment and armoured vehicles.

On Saturday, police cleared demonstrators at the Champs-Elysees who evaded authorities. A video from a French journalist shows police using tear gas to disperse the crowd.

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Tow trucks were also being used to remove vehicles in the French capital. At least 14 people were detained.

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned authorities earlier this week that protests planned by truckers could cause disruptions in Los Angeles, where the Super Bowl is set to take place on Sunday.

“The convoy will potentially begin in California early as mid-February, potentially impacting the Super Bowl scheduled for 13 February and the State of the Union address scheduled for 1 March,” according to a Homeland Security memo obtained by The Hill.

Canadian truckers may join the American convoy, which is expected to end in Washington.

10:15 a.m.

In Ottawa, more protesters arrived at Parliament Hill. Police are expecting an influx of people to join the protest over the weekend, as temperatures are set to reach -10C during the day on Saturday.

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In Montreal, protesters are marching as the leader of the People’s Party of Canada Maxime Bernier announced on Saturday morning that he would participate. At the end of the march, protesters will meet north of the city to congregate before driving to join the protest in Ottawa.

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Some protesters are showing up in Montreal to rally against the Freedom Convoy protests.

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9:30 a.m.

On Saturday morning, Toronto streets around Queens Park remained empty in anticipation of more pandemic protests.

“Given the intelligence we acquired, the Service made the decision to scale up its operational response on Wednesday of this week and implemented the closure of Queen’s Park Circle from College St. to Bloor St.,” said Police Chief James Ramer on Friday at a press conference. “Since then, we have closed College St. between Bay St. and Yonge St. to vehicular traffic with the exception of public transit.”

He warned that anyone blocking access to hospitals would be “subject to strict enforcement.”

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9:15 a.m.

Protesters in Windsor were told by police to leave the area surrounding Ambassador Bridge and head home. Several of them started to pack up their tents, while others shouted “freedom” as they carried Canadian flags from their trucks or on foot.

8 a.m.

In Windsor, police said in a Twitter post that they had begun enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge. They asked commuters to avoid the area.

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With additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Bloomberg and Reuters

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