RCMP Says Emergencies Act Was Not Needed to Clear Border Blockades

by EditorK

Protestors and supporters set up at a blockade at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, sealing off the flow of commercial traffic over the bridge into Canada from Detroit, on February 10, 2022 in Windsor, Canada. As a convoy of truckers and supporters continues to occupy Ottawas downtown, blockades and convoys have popped up around the country in support of the protest against Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

By Noé Chartier

The RCMP commissioner says that no powers granted by the invoking of the Emergencies Act were used to clear the border blockades in February.

“In RCMP jurisdiction, we successfully used a measured approach and existing legislation to resolve border blockades,” Commissioner Brenda Lucki told the special joint committee of parliamentarians reviewing the declaration of emergency on May 10.

After truckers from the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa on Jan. 29 to demand the lifting of COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, solidarity border blockades started appearing across the country in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time on Feb. 14 to remove the protests and blockades, citing the economic harm they were inflicting on the country.

“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety. Critical supply chains have been disrupted. This is hurting workers who rely on these jobs to feed their families,” Trudeau said at the time.

The blockade at the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C., was cleared by the RCMP on Feb. 14.

Protesters at the Coutts border crossing in Alberta voluntarily left the site on the morning of Feb. 15.

Protesters at the Emerson border crossing in Manitoba left on Feb. 16 after negotiating with police that no arrests would be made.

The most costly action for Canada-U.S. trade was the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, but that action was not under RCMP jurisdiction and it was cleared by police on Feb. 13, a day before the public order emergency was declared.

If the RCMP did not need to use powers granted by the act, such as the ability to designate no-protest zones, compel towing companies to remove vehicles, or freeze protesters’ financial accounts, Lucki said the act had a deterring effect on participants.

“We often personally heard from people saying ‘I’m leaving, because I don’t want my account to get frozen or I’m leaving because I don’t want my truck to be towed,’” she told the committee.

Lucki said the power to compel towing companies would have been useful in Coutts to remove vehicles had the act been invoked earlier, but she said the province eventually bought its own tow trucks to do the work.

The commissioner said the powers granted by the act were useful in clearing the three-week trucker-led demonstration in Ottawa.

“It gave us a lot of powers to work through that enforcement the safest way possible to protect the safety of Canadians and police officers,” she said.

The clearing operation of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa started on Feb. 18 with a massive deployment of police officers, with some dressed in full military-style gear and making arrests at gunpoint, and others on horseback at one point trampling some protesters.

After a weekend of enforcement, the protest was cleared and the government revoked the public order emergency on Feb. 23. Two days earlier the Liberals had subjected the House of Commons to a vote of confidence on the issue.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.

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