Ottawa police on Wednesday warned Canadian truckers blocking thoroughfares to protest COVID-19 mandates to immediately depart or face arrest, though the truckers were unbowed.
Officers began distributing sternly worded leaflets to the approximately 360 vehicles that remain in the capital since demonstrations began last month.
“You must leave the area now,” the flyer reads. “Anyone blocking the streets, or assisting others in blocking streets, are committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested.”
Police also warn that those charged may be denied crossing the U.S. border.
Mr. Jonker said he could understand the use of the government to deal with the blockades at the border, which he said he did not support. But he said it is a significant overreach for the government to crack down on the protests in Ottawa.
Police said the Ottawa residents are “being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property” and that the ongoing protests have caused businesses to close.
The leaflet also directly references Canada’s Emergencies Act which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked on Monday in an unprecedented move to quell the protests.
The police leaflet said the new measures allow “for the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified area.”
“This means that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law,” it said. “The act also provides police with a number of measures including the ability to seize vehicles that are part of this demonstration.”
In addition to expanding authorities for police, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also announced that the government will crack down on crowdfunding sites used to support the protests under broadened anti-money-laundering regulations.
Mr. Jonker said the Canadian banks have begun blocking donations to the “Freedom Convoy,” but that cash and fuel donations have continued to flow.
“Total strangers walking here as part of the protesters that are supporting us, are giving us truck drivers, total strangers, cash in my hand,” he said. “And it’s not going to stop.”
Ottawa has remained a stronghold for the trucker protests despite police action at border crossings across Canada.
Late last week, police began clearing a blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, a key border crossing with Michigan, that had forced U.S. auto manufacturers to cut production due to parts shortages.
Earlier this week, authorities began clearing the Coutts, Alberta, border crossing into Montana.
On Monday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seized a cache of weapons and arrested 13 and seized a cache of weapons in connection with the blockade.
The RCMP said Tuesday that four protesters at the Coutts border crossing had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in addition to weapons possessions charges.
Demonstrators began clearing the crossing as police moved in, and Canada’s minister of public safety announced Tuesday afternoon that the Coutts border crossing had officially reopened.
“It’s actually a booked protest,” he said. “We scheduled this. We are on schedule with where we’re supposed to be.”