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Freedom Convoy: Canada court orders end to trucks' bridge blockade


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The injunction comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns of "severe" consequences for the truckers.

The chief justice of Ontario's Superior Court of Justice said the injunction would come into effect at 19:00 local time (midnight GMT) on Friday.

The Ambassador Bridge, linking Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit, Michigan, has been blockaded for five days.

Truckers' protests against Covid restrictions are also ongoing at other border crossings and in Ottawa.

The ruling was made at a court hearing on Friday. The specifics of the injunction are still being finalised, according to CBC News.

The injunction had been sought by the city of Windsor and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.

It gives the police more power to intervene to end the protests.

On Thursday, Windsor Police said that law enforcement from other jurisdictions were helping at the site of the protests.

Following the court order, they put out a statement to "make demonstrators clearly aware that it is a criminal offence" to block the border crossing. The police added that criminal conviction could lead to the seizure of vehicles and the inability to enter the US.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with US President Joe Biden about the border blockades.

The pair discussed their "shared challenges at the border", Mr Trudeau said, with the prime minister promising quick action to resume trade.

About 100 vehicles - pickup trucks, SUVs and articulated lorries - were parked along the road leading up to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, festooned with Canadian Flags and signs proclaiming "Freedom".

The atmosphere was noticeably more subdued on Friday than previous evenings, protesters told the BBC.

If the Ottawa protest has made national headlines for its noise and bluster, then the Windsor bridge blockade has left its mark by making millions of dollars of daily trade come to a halt. The area was mostly quiet, save for the occasional honking horn and the stereo sound of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark."

Speaking to the BBC, former cross-border truck driver Hank, who did not want to give his last name, said he was there to support his friends who've lost their jobs.

"We want our freedoms back, we want mandates lifted," he said. "We want life to go back to the old normal not the new normal."

With a judge granting an injunction, and a state of emergency declared, most protesters are waiting to see if police make their move.

Hank says he thinks their time in Windsor is running out: "We can't fight behind bars. We have to keep it peaceful," he said.

Addressing Canadians on Friday, Mr Trudeau applauded Ontario's measure and said that "everything is on the table" to ensure the demonstrations are brought to an end.

"If you join the protests because you are tired of Covid you need to understand that you are breaking laws," said the Liberal leader. "The consequences are becoming more and more severe.

"You don't want to end up losing your licence, end up with a criminal record, which will impact your job, your livelihood, even your ability to travel internationally, including to the US.

"We've heard your frustration with Covid, with the measures that are there to keep people safe. We've heard you. It's time to go home now."

He added that "we are a long way from ever having to call in the military, although of course we have to be ready for any eventuality."

Mr Trudeau's rhetoric comes a day after US officials spoke to their Canadian counterparts to urge them to use their federal powers to end the "Freedom Convoy" protests.

Also on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned that the protests were illegal, and declared a state of emergency for the province.

The order increases the penalty for blocking crucial infrastructure, making an offence punishable by up to a year in jail and C$100,000 ($79,000; £58,000) in fines.

Ahead of the injunction order on Friday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CNN that the next step is now to ask the protesters to leave by court order.

If they refuse, "one by one we'll start towing the cars if required," he said.

"All of us respect that the hallmark of our respective democracies is that we have the right to express ourselves, to protest and to demonstrate, that's OK," Mr Dilkens said. "What's not OK is deciding to choke off the busiest commercial border crossing between our two nations."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-60356461?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA

 

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