Doug Ford urged to declare provincial state of emergency over trucker chaos in Ottawa
Ottawa remains in a bad way after a second consecutive weekend of unruly protests in the nation's capital, which police say has fallen "under siege" as part of a "nation-wide insurrection."
What was initially planned as a peaceful protest involving a convoy of truck drivers convening in Ottawa to protest federal vaccine mandates has devolved into complete chaos over the past 11 days: Vandalism, violence, hate symbols, horns blaring at all hours and the widespread harassment of residents among many unlawful acts.
Police had opened more than 60 criminal investigations related to the demonstrations so far as of Sunday night, primarily for "mischief, thefts, hate crimes and property damage." More than 100 tickets were issued yesterday alone for Highway Traffic Act violations.
The situation has grown out of control to the point that Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was prompted to declare a local state of emergency for the city "due to the ongoing demonstration" this weekend.
Good. Hope flexible procurement means procuring towing capacity asap. https://t.co/m7ieNl2Egu— Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) February 6, 2022
"Declaring a state of emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government," reads an announcement from the city published Sunday.
"It also provides greater flexibility within the municipal administration to enable the City of Ottawa to manage business continuity for essential services for its residents and enables a more flexible procurement process, which could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders."
But the troubles persist, with some occupiers stating that they won't leave until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resigns or rescinds all vaccine mandates.
The PM made quite clear last week that he will not negotiate with the protest group, but federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is now calling upon the government to get more involved.
"The organizers have made it clear their intention is to overthrow the government," said Singh on Monday in the House of Commons. "It's clear that we need federal leadership right now."
Especially when you have protesters turned arsonists attempting to burn down apartment buildings at Metcalfe and Lisgar.https://t.co/yFwEqHJ1iA— Laudieda (@Laudieda2) February 7, 2022
Meanwhile, Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says its the province that should be stepping in to help Ottawa by declaring its own state of emergency.
"In order to protect both people and property in the City of Ottawa, it's time for [Premier Doug Ford] to invoke the Emergency Management + Civil Protection Act to ensure law enforcement has the appropriate tools needed to restore order," wrote Del Duca in a statement published Sunday night.
A second statement, published Monday morning, also urges Doug Ford's Conservative party to also "seek forfeiture of assets used in commission of illegal Ottawa occupation."
In other words, Del Duca believes that those blockading the streets of Ottawa should be forced to drive their trucks away or lose their vehicles entirely.
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, Steve Del Duca, calls on Doug Ford to declare a Province wide State of Emergency.— LΞIGH (@LeighStewy) February 7, 2022
He’s seeking forfeiture of assets used for the “illegal occupation” in Ottawa.
“leave now, or risk losing your truck.”https://t.co/2o3yDIYAgS
"The residents of Ottawa are victims of a dangerous antivax mob holding their city hostage," said Del Duca in Monday's release. "It has gone far beyond what can be considered a protest and the occupation must be dealt with using strong action."
"In addition to declaring a provincial State of Emergency, I am also calling today, on the Provincial Attorney General to make clear that Crown prosecutors will follow the guidance in their Prosecution Manual, and will seek forfeiture of any assets used in the commission of a serious (indictable or hybrid) offense."
Del Duca is calling upon Ford to announce a "provincial response" plan to end the demonstrations.
"It's time to free the people of Ottawa from the antivax mob holding them hostage. People are scared, angry and looking for leadership to end the occupation, but they've been abandoned by a Premier who only coddles antivaxxers," he wrote.
Ford has, however, spoken out against the behaviours witnessed at Ottawa's "Freedom rallies," himself calling the current iteration of the protest an "occupation" that is "hurting families and businesses."
When are you going to control this mob!?! https://t.co/bOp54kfyxk— Rowena Del Xena (@ohzerout) February 6, 2022
The Premier stated on Friday during a virtual press conference with other Canadian premiers that he would take a "zero tolerance" approach to "any harassment or acts of hatred or acts of violence."
Ford has yet to comment on the prospect of declaring a provincial state of emergency due to the trucker protest. Ontario is no longer under a state of emergency due to COVID, though many orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended until February 23, 2022.
"While we cannot direct the police, we have provided the city of Ottawa everything they have asked for and will continue to provide whatever support they request," wrote Ford on Twitter Sunday morning.
Protest activities in Toronto this weekend were, for the record, largely peaceful and underwhelming thanks to early police intervention and the strategic blocking of key streets.
Things did get a bit messy at times, but as of Monday morning, the streets of downtown Toronto are clear of convoy demonstrators. They've all either gone home or back to Ottawa to yell at the walls of Parliament Hill.
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