Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has invoked emergency powers to try to quell the protests by truck drivers and others who have paralyzed Ottawa and blocked border crossings in anger over the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Trudeau ruled out using the military and said Monday that the emergency measures “will be time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.”
For the past two weeks, hundreds and sometimes thousands of protesters in trucks and other vehicles have clogged the streets of Ottawa, the capital, railing against vaccine mandates and other virus precautions and condemning Trudeau’s Liberal government.
Members of the self-styled Freedom Convoy have also blockaded various U.S.-Canadian border crossings, though the busiest and most important — the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit — was reopened over the weekend.
“This is the biggest, greatest, most severe test Trudeau has faced,” Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and national security expert, told AP.
Invoking the Emergencies Act would allow the federal government to declare the Ottawa protest illegal and clear it out by such means as towing vehicles, Wark said.
It would also enable the government to make greater use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police agency.