Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to wash his hands of the mess in Ottawa and on the border and has passed off responsibility to local officials to get rid of the protesters by any means necessary.
The Canadian government and the nation’s media agree: the protests in Canada’s capital city are a threat to Canada and need to be ended.
“They’re essentially putting their foot on the throat of all Canadians,” said Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and federal minister for emergency preparedness.
In addition to paralyzing downtown Ottawa, the truckers have blocked traffic on the busiest route linking Canada and the U.S. The U.S. government says blocking traffic on the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit, Mich., with Windsor, Ontario, and accounts for roughly a quarter of trade between the two countries, is adding to the supply chain crisis.
As the protest has gone on, the rhetoric coming from the government has become more and more hysterical. It’s becoming clear that it won’t be long before the Canadian government officials convince themselves that they are dealing with their very own January 6-style “insurrection” and must take action to protect the state.
But Trudeau isn’t quite there yet. He could invoke emergency powers to clear the bridge and downtown Ottawa but is hesitating.
“The damage this is causing to our economy, to people’s jobs and their livelihoods is totally unacceptable. We cannot let this continue.”
To that end, Ottawa police issued their sternest warning yet — broadcasting that they could be arrested without warning if they persist with the occupation of the city’s downtown core.
Referencing the crime called “mischief to property,” the message said if the demonstrators don’t stop blocking city streets they could be arrested, charged, and have their vehicles seized and possibly forfeited. It also said those charged or convicted for participating in the demonstration may be blocked from crossing the Canada-U.S. border.
The threat worked about as well as expected.
Responding to the Star via text message Wednesday evening, convoy organizer Chris Barber was defiant.
“We replace every driver arrested with three new drivers,” he wrote. “Call just went out.”
The protests aren’t just in Ottawa. There are trucker blockades all across Canada snarling traffic at several key border crossings. Even if the RCMP moves on the truckers in Ottawa, they have other headaches to deal with across the vast expanse of Canada.
Trudeau is trying to keep his head down and ride out the storm, allowing the police and local officials to take the brunt of criticism for what’s going on in the country. But if his hope is that the “Freedom Convoy” gets tired, gives up, and goes home, he is sadly mistaken.