Lines of heavily-armed police in Ottawa dramatically thrust forward Saturday morning to gain yet more ground in the operation to smash the truck-protest occupation of the downtown area.
Within 30 minutes they had cleared an area right up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office – which has been the epicenter of the paralyzing three-week Freedom Convoy blockade by more than 300 trucks.
On Saturday, the debate on whether Trudeau should have enacted the draconian Emergency Powers Act resumed, after being suspended Friday over claims the nearby protests compromised Canadian MPs’ safety.
Some arrests were made as the line moved steadily from the Chateau Launier hotel – which had been the overnight holding position – and up Wellington Street to the Parliament Buildings area.
Cops now easily outnumber the remaining protestors, who are gathered near their makeshift stage in what feels almost like a last stand in freezing temperatures and snowfall.
Ottawa’s city cops were even more heavily armed than when the clearance operation began Friday. They were all carrying batons and were helmeted. Others had rubber bullet guns.
As the line halted almost under the window of Trudeau’s office, other ranks of the fearsome Surete du Quebec riot police – dressed in military-style green fatigues and with tear gas guns – assembled in the rear.
Also waiting in the background were several police horses, which were used yesterday evening/Friday to storm through protestors after cops said officers were being attacked.
Ottawa police have already said they believe the bulk of the operation can be achieved Saturday.
By 11am the protesters’ stage and ‘community area’ which had food stands was overrun by police.
It was the central focus of the blockade outside Parliament Buildings on Wellington Street – with a video screen and other facilities.
Farther down Wellington Street, police squads arrived and gave truckers and demonstrators there five minutes to get out – it be arrested. All three trucks there and one RV left. One of them was driven by a woman sobbing at the wheel.
As the trucks left, a small crowd cheered and applauded, calling them heroes.
The police operation is moving much faster than Friday. Before lunchtime, had taken control of the main area and were left with mopping up the side streets – which still contain a lot of vehicles.
A freedom convoy protester is hit with pepper spray Saturday as cops in Canada clear the final Freedom Convoy protesters away from the Parliament building in Ottawa
Cops armed with batons could be seen clashing with another protester as they advanced to break-up the remaining members of the Freedom Convoy
A bearded man wearing a blanked and gloves could be seen grimacing as he was tackled by police
Ottawa riot police are pictured scuffling with a Freedom Convoy protester during Saturday’s so-called last stand next to the Canadian Parliament building
A protester squares up to armed riot police in Ottawa Saturday morning, as cops continued to clear away the Freedom Convoy
Officers were armed with batons and rubber bullet guns, and managed to clear protesters from the front of the Canadian Parliament building
At one point, cops were seen bursting through a snow mound constructed by protesters to try and slow their progress. A masked man was seeing trying to flee from then
A couple of protesters danced close to a police barricade in Ottawa Saturday, with police saying they anticipated the rest of the protest being cleared away within hours
This group of protesters represent the final stand of the Freedom Convoy, and are expected to be cleared away by Saturday afternoon
A female protester was filmed looking upset with police officers as they cleared the Freedom Convoy away on Saturday
Around 9.15, cops issued a tweet aimed at demonstrators still near Chateau Laurier saying: ‘Protestors: we told you to leave. We have you time to leave.
‘We were slow and methodical, yet you were assaultive and aggressive with officers and the horses.
‘Based on your behavior, we are responding by including helmets and batons for our safety.’
Five minutes later they began their latest push.
One protestor launched a gas canister at the cops, according to another official tweet. It added: ‘Police response will be with publica and officer safety in mind. Police remind protestors to remain peaceful.’
Dozens of truckers have now abandoned the protest and driven their rigs away from the area – despite earlier saying they were going nowhere.
Numbers of demonstrators, who made the same vow to media, have also dwindled drastically in the face of patient but determined police action.
Seven law enforcement agencies are involved in the swoop to regain the streets.
More than 100 truckers and protestors have been arrested so far as hundreds of police launched a massive crackdown on the Freedom Convoy occupation of Ottawa on Friday.
Most of the area has now been cleared, and the protest is likely to be moved completely by Saturday afternoon
Freedom Convoy protesters are snapped facing-off against Quebec’s riot police on Saturday morning
Heavily-armed riot cops used pepper spray, while mounted police and armored vehicles were also brought in to help begin clearing the downtown area, paralyzed by a three-week blockade over the truckers’ Covid jab protest.
On Friday night, Ottawa police ramped up the pressure by issuing an alert saying anyone ‘within the unlawful protest site may be arrested.’
Officers smashed the window of one truck to pull the occupant out and arrest him. Protesters who refused to move were arrested one by one before they were taken away by pairs of officers.
A third protest leader, Pat King, was arrested. On Thursday, two other organizers – Tamara Lich and Chris Barber – had been taken into custody.
One SUV carrying nurses and medical supplies was surrounded by armed police and a window of the vehicle was smashed, outside the secure area. When the police searched the vehicle and confirmed there were no weapons, they let the protesters continue their journey – and gave them information about how to get the window repaired. There were no arrests.
The police at 10:20pm on Friday tweeted: ‘Please note: No one has been seriously injured or passed away in any of today’s police actions. Safety is our priority.’
They also continued urging people to voluntarily leave the secure zone.
The massive sweep involving seven police forces began around 11:15 a.m. It followed days of speculation about when the crackdown would happen after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for draconian new powers.
Ottawa police are constantly updating figures, but the latest are more than 100 people arrested and 21 vehicles have been towed away.
A woman kneels before police in Ottawa as protesters are arrested at the end of a three week protest
Lines of police officers assemble near the truckers’ protest on Friday
A truck leaves the Parliament Hill area as some drivers on Friday were convinced to leave the site
Police storm a caravan and arrest a person who refused to leave
A police force of hundreds has descended on the Freedom Convoy truckers in Ottawa, Canada, making scores of arrests and towing away big rigs that have formed a three-week blockade around the country’s Parliament to protest vaccine mandates. At least 70 protesters have been arrested, and police said none have been injured
Police horses lined up in Ottawa on Friday, before the order was given to disperse the crowd
A protester is forcibly removed from the scene in Ottawa by police on Friday
Police confront truckers in a bid to remove them from Ottawa on Friday
Protesters and police tussle as one of 100 people is arrested in Ottawa on Friday
Protesters take photos of the police horses before the order to move in is given
Police plunge into the crowd to arrest protesters in Ottawa on Friday
Police mass in Ottawa preparing to force protesters from the city center
Police face off with demonstrators in Ottawa on Friday night
A police officer in riot gear readies to remove the protesters from downtown Ottawa after three weeks of protest
Officers in Ottawa ready to move in on Friday afternoon to break up the protests
A woman carrying a placard walks past the waiting police officers in Ottawa on Friday afternoon
Protesters wave the Canadian flag in Ottawa on Friday afternoon as police stand by
A protester films on his phone during a police standoff with demonstrators in Ottawa on Friday afternoon
Police in gas masks ready the tear gas to clear protesters from downtown Ottawa on Friday
A protester wearing a biker jacket with a veteran’s badge on it is led away by cops after being arrested in Ottawa
Four officers carry a handcuffed protester away from the no-go zone in Ottawa
A protester confronts police before being arrested on Friday afternoon
Demonstrators are seen kneeling after being handcuffed at the protests on Friday as police used Trudeau’s Emergency Act to create a ‘no-go’ zone in Ottawa and arrest protesters
Among the police units on the ground are the fearsome Surete du Quebec riot cops, dressed in green military-style fatigues, helmets and visors and wielding batons. Some were also brandishing tear gas guns and already wearing gas masks.
The operation began with a tense face-off between a large contingent of Ottawa cops – dressed in blue tactical gear and some with rubber bullet guns – confronting demonstrators near the Westin hotel on the edge of the police’s new ‘secured zone’. Police horses were in the background.
DailyMail.com witnessed four arrests of individuals who were singled out and wrestled to the ground before being cuffed with zip ties and led away.
Officers faced taunts and shouts as they slowly moved the crowd back towards the iconic Chateau Laurier hotel, about 400 yards from the protest epicenter beside the Parliament Buildings.
As he watched cops advance, protestor Dallon – who would not give his last name – told DailyMail.com: ‘This is a sledge hammer to kill a fly.
‘I’m not afraid to get arrested. In fact I’m expecting it. But they know why we are here and many of them are actually with us.’
The number of demonstrators thinned out with the first police surge in the highly fluid situation. Organizers could be heard trying to rally protestors to ‘hold the line’ farther back.
One, who had a British accent, appeared to be a demonstration co-ordinator. He rushed past us as he yelled to others: ‘Go back, hold the line in Wellington Street (closer to the main blockade). We’re just going to get arrested here,’
As the crowd was corralled up the street to a group of parked trucks, at least 50 of the Surete du Quebec riot cops appeared to come out of nowhere and the tension rose dramatically.
The daunting military-style figures blocked anyone leaving their self-imposed perimeter, warning everyone including the media that they faced arrest.
Minutes later they formed a single line, separating demonstrators from the road intersection near the Chateau Laurier that had been taken over by truckers.
Three riot cop spotters were seen on the roof of the building being used as the temporary home of the Canadian Senate, which overlooks the stand-off area. A drone was flying overhead.
Demonstrators yelled ‘shame on you’ and chanted at the officers, who stood immobile for at least two hours in what appears to be a patient and methodical police operation.
One man stripped off his shirt and got down on his knees in an imploring gesture as he begged them to back off.
However, behind the wall of riot cops other officers could be seen arresting truckers who had stayed in their rigs which were overrun by the law enforcement surge near the Chateau Laurier.
Cops could be seen knocking on the door of trucks to get the drivers to come out. Most complied, although at least one tried to stay put and an officer breached the door to pull him out.
The arrested drivers all ended up sprawled on the snow, made to put their arms behind their backs and were then cuffed before being led away.
And the tension rose dramatically just before 5pm when a column of police horses moved in as the riot cops began another surge to claim more ground. By 6.25pm the riot police were holding a new line slightly closer to the Parliament Buildings.
Ottawa cops said their officers had been attacked. They tweeted: ‘Protestors are assaulting officers, have attempted to remove officers’ weapons. All means of de-escalation have been used to move forward in our goal of returning Ottawa to its normalcy.’
Police make an arrest as they crackdown on the Freedom Convoy protest, which started in opposition to vaccine mandates and grew into a broader anti-government demonstration and siege
Riot cops with tear gas cannons converge on the Ottawa protests in a crackdown on the Freedom Convoy
A Canadian flag is held up by a protester as police slowly push in to the core of the Freedom Convoy protest. Police began arresting protesters and towing away trucks Friday in a bid to break the three-week, traffic-snarling siege of Canada’s capital
Hundreds of police advanced on the protesters and began picking them off with arrests one by one
Two camper vans that had been a signature feature of the occupation – blocking one of the main arteries into the Parliament Hill area – were among those hauled away. One of the occupants was arrested
A person waves a Canadian flag as police on horseback and an armoured police vehicle are positioned in front of protesters
Protesters embrace in front of police officers on Rideau Street near the truck blockade in Ottawa, on Friday
A demonstrator lies on the ground to block the advance of police and tow trucks in Ottawa on Friday
A protest truck is towed as police begin to clear demonstrators against vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Friday
Using powers under the Emergencies Act, Ottawa cops have established a ‘no-go’ zone with 100 checkpoints encircling the Freedom Convoy, cutting them off from support and preventing additional protesters from joining
And the force also issued an official alert graphic on Twitter, reading: ‘Demonstrators you must leave. Anyone found within the zone will be arrested.’
It reinforced the message by adding: ‘You must leave. You must cease further unlawful activity and immediately remove your vehicle and/or property from all unlawful protest sites. Anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested.’
Some demonstrators remained defiant but appeared shaken by the initial police surge. However, as the day drew on their spirits lifted. More and more protestors began to congregate in the stand-off area.
It is clear that the combined police operation is working to a specific and patient plan, however the demonstrators also appear well organized – and now largely unfazed.
Dozens were roaming around filming on their phones and dictating a narrative as they live-streamed on social media.
As word spread of the dramatic police action, at least 14 trucks near the Parliament Buildings drove off from the spots where they had been for three weeks.
Back at the makeshift stage almost under the office window of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the atmosphere was surreal.
While riot cops were cracking down just 300 yards away, music was still blaring from the stage and a performer was trying to keep up the spirits of protestors huddled around and dancing.
Among truckers parked on Parliament Hill near Trudeau’s office, the mood was growing philosophical as the law enforcement surge tightened its grip.
Eric, who would not give his last name, was carrying fuel cans to his rig parked in Wellington St beside the Parliament Buildings.
He said of confronting police when it comes: ‘We are going to be peaceful. So if the police come in, knocking on our doors, arresting us or telling us we have to leave then that’s going to happen.
‘We will do our best to be peaceful and to comply as much as we can with police orders.’
He added: ‘We are not sure what is going to happen. They are arresting some drivers and towing some trucks. But I understand that here in Wellington Street we are allowed to be here, this is legal.
‘We are not breaking any laws, we have lawyers saying that.
‘We are being lawful so from that standpoint that is why we are still here and whatever comes from there.
‘I think we are on our way to this protest being a success. There is a lot of hard work needed after this. I think we opened up a lot of eyes. A lot of people who were afraid to speak up are now speaking up. The Prime Minister was not willing to speak with us at all, he just totally discredited us.’
Ottawa police advance on protesters in Trudeau’s final crackdown on the Freedom Convoy
The Surete de Quebec officers, all with riot helmets and visors and a few with tear gas guns and already wearing gas masks, formed an impenetrable barrier
A shirtless protester dances in front of police as they work to bring a protest in opposition to vaccine mandates to an end
A demonstrator against Covid-19 mandates kneels in front of police in Ottawa on Friday during the crackdown
A man pulls bags out of his car as police officers form a line pushing protestors back and close in on his vehicle
A woman folds her hands as police move in on the core of the Freedom Convoy protest in central Ottawa on Friday
Protesters confront police officers, as authorities move in on the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Ontario
A police officer grabs at a protester as they tighten their cordon around the protests on Parliament Hill
A truck leaves the Parliament Hill area on Friday as Ottawa police break the blockade after three weeks of protests
Trucks leave downtown as the Freedom Convoy faces its final hours in Ottawa on Friday
Police confront demonstrators against vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Friday. Demonstrators shouted ‘Freedom!’ as police closed in and began making arrests in the final crackdown
Police appeared to be singling out protesters for arrest one by one, scuffling with them before taking them into custody
Police hold a line as they work to bring a protest in opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates to an end in Ottawa
Quebec Provincial Police hold a line as they work to bring the protest to an end on Friday in Ottawa
The riot cops seen above are from Quebec’s provincial police force, which has a reputation for tough tactics
Armed police officer deploy to remove demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa on Friday
A police officer removes a man from a vehicle as the sweep to clear demonstrators from central Ottawa closes in
Armed police officer inspect vehicles as they deploy to remove demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa
Canadian police began a massive operation to clear the trucker-led protests against Covid health rules clogging the capital for three weeks, with several arrests made
Police deploy to remove demonstrators against vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Friday
On Thursday night, police took the first step in the crackdown with the arrests of key protest leaders Tamara Lich, 47, and Christopher Barber, 46.
Lich and Barber were both charged with counseling to commit mischief, and Barber was additionally charged with counseling to commit the offenses of disobeying a court order and obstructing police. They are both scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
Freedom Convoy organizers said on Friday that a third leader, Daniel Bulford, had been arrested as well.
‘This is a grass-roots movement and others will fill their roles,’ the group said in a statement.
‘We will continue to hold the line. We refuse to bow to abuses of power. The world is watching, Canada,’ the Convoy said.
The suspension of Friday’s debate in the House of Commons was due to safety concerns, Speaker Anthony Rota said in notice to MPs, warning them that a police operation was expected and urging them to ‘stay away from the downtown core until further notice.’
The initial schedule called for debate through the weekend on the motion to confirm Trudeau’s emergency powers, followed by a vote on Monday night.
House leadership of all parties agreed to the cancellation of Friday’s sitting, with a plan to resume debate on Saturday and vote ‘early next week’ on the motion, which is expected to pass despite vocal opposition from the Conservative minority and allied Bloc Québécois.
Police officers form a column to begin the final advance against the Freedom Convoy’s last stronghold on Parliament Hill
Police enforce a blockade cutting off the demonstration area from support in their ‘ring of flannel’ strategy
Police arrest a demonstrator participating in the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa on Friday
Police officers detain a man, as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa Friday
People hug in front of police officers, as truckers and supporters continue their Freedom Convoy protests on Friday
A recreational vehicle is towed as police begin to clear demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa on Friday
Tow truck operators wore neon-green ski masks and taped over their companies’ decals on their trucks to conceal their identities from trucker protesters who might consider them traitors to their cause
A man holds a Canadian flag in front of the parliament, as truckers face the final crackdown on their protest by police
Trucks block a street in front of Parliament Hill as dawn breaks on a massive police operation to clear streets on Friday
Canada’s House of Commons suspended Friday’s vote to approve Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s emergency powers, citing the imminent police action outside the doors of Parliament
A map shows the road closures and blockade that Ottawa police have erected in a ‘ring of flannel’ around the Convoy
Using powers under the Emergencies Act, Ottawa cops have established a ‘no-go’ zone with 100 checkpoints encircling the Freedom Convoy, cutting them off from support and preventing additional protesters from joining the demonstration blockading the streets around Parliament Hill.
During Friday’s crackdown, Ottawa Police issued a statement on Twitter threatening to arrest journalists covering the sweep, alarming free press advocates.
‘All media who are attending the area, please keep a distance and stay out of police operations for your safety,’ the department said.
‘Anyone found within areas undergoing enforcement may be subject to arrest. There will be a media availability later today,’ the statement added.
Ottawa Police also said as the crackdown unfolded that there was a ‘concerted effort to flood our 911 and non-emergency policing reporting line.’
‘This endangers lives and is completely unacceptable,’ said OPS.
‘Some protesters are surrendering and are being arrested. We ask protesters to remain peaceful and lawful,’ Ottawa police said in an alert.
Some demonstrators were seen being led away in handcuffs. One person being led away was carrying a sign that read ‘Mandate Freedom.’
Freedom Convoy supporters form a line on Friday morning in Ottawa as police advanced on the protest
Police confront demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa on Friday in Ottawa
A protester films a line of police officers as they assemble by the Rideau Centre near the truck blockade in Ottawa, on Friday
Police clash with demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa on Friday
While some protesters surrendered, many remained defiant as the crackdown unfolded
While some protesters surrendered, many remained defiant as the crackdown unfolded.
‘Freedom was never free,’ said trucker Kevin Homaund, of Montreal. ‘So what if they put the handcuffs on us and they put us in jail?’
Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell had vowed that the protests would end this weekend, warning demonstrators: ‘It’s time to go, this is coming to an end.’
The early morning mood on Ottawa’s snow-covered streets was almost one of resignation, and truckers, who refused to give their names, just shrugged their shoulders in response to questions over their concerns about being arrested.
The capital represented the movement’s last stronghold after three weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the U.S., caused economic damage to both countries and created a political crisis for Trudeau.
With police and the government facing accusations that they let the protests gain strength and spread, Trudeau on Monday invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act, empowering law enforcement authorities to declare the blockades illegal, tow away trucks, arrest the drivers, suspend their licenses and freeze their bank accounts.
Ottawa police made it clear on Thursday they were preparing to end the protest and remove the more than 300 trucks, with Ottawa’s interim police chief warning: ‘Action is imminent.’
The capital represented the movement’s last stronghold after three weeks of demonstrations and blockades
With police and the government facing accusations that they let the protests gain strength and spread, Trudeau on Monday invoked Canada´s Emergencies Act, empowering law enforcement authorities
A truck is towed as police crack down on truckers and supporters protesting vaccine mandates, in Ottawa on Friday
A protest truck is towed as police begin to clear demonstrators against Covid-19 mandates in Ottawa on Friday
A tow operator wears a ski mask to cover his identity as he prepares to remove a truck from a blockade on Nicholas St. in Ottawa. Police began arresting protesters Friday in a bid to break the three-week, traffic-snarling siege of Canada’s capital
Pedestrians walk by trucks participating in a blockade of Parliament Hill by truck drivers opposing vaccine mandates
Police in Canada have begun a sweep to arrest the Freedom Convoy truckers who have paralyzed traffic in Ottawa for three weeks in a protest against the country’s vaccine mandates
Police officers stand in formation as they prepare for a crackdown on truckers and supporters protesting in Ottawa
As dawn broke on Friday, police warned of a ‘large police presence’ descending on Parliament Hill and said that ‘protesters are being advised to leave immediately’
‘Some protesters are surrendering and are being arrested. We ask protesters to remain peaceful and lawful,’ Ottawa police said in an alert
Barber, a truck driver for the last 28 years who led the Saskatchewan portion of the protest convoy that has been in Ottawa for the last three weeks, was walking down the street with several friends when police detained him.
Footage posted on social media showed him being detained. He could be seen smiling calmly as he was patted down and put in a patrol car.
‘Call my wife!’ he said, to a friend who was filming. ‘And put this on social media.’
Lich, 47, widely seen as the main organizer of the protest, was detained on Thursday night as snow fell in Ottawa. She did not resist as she was handcuffed and calmly taken away in a police patrol car.
‘Hold the line,’ she shouted as she was escorted away.
A former fitness instructor who has sung and played guitar in a band called Blind Monday in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Lich was also a senior member of a separatist group that advocated for Canada’s Western provinces to secede from the country.
On Wednesday night, she had posted a tearful video to YouTube telling her supporters that she expected to be arrested imminently.
‘There’s a pretty good chance – I think it’s inevitable at this point – I’ll probably be going somewhere tomorrow where I’ll be getting three square meals a day,’ she said.
‘And that’s OK. I want you to know I’m OK with that.
‘I’ll probably get some sleep.
‘But please stay peaceful. And know that this too shall pass. There will be a tomorrow. And we will get through this.’
Tamara Lich (left) was arrested in Ottawa on Thursday after she and her followers denied orders to leave the blockade in the center of the capital. Chris Barber (right) is seen on Thursday afternoon being arrested by Ottawa police
Police face off with a protester against COVID-19 mandates on Friday, in Ottawa. Police began arresting protesters Friday in a bid to break the three-week, traffic-snarling siege of Canada’s capital by hundreds of truckers
Police officers detain a man on Friday morning, as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa
Cops on Friday morning swooped in to the new ‘no-go’ zone created under powers from the Emergencies Act
A demonstrator is arrested by police in Ottawa on Friday as they begin to remove protesters demanding an end to. Police on said action to end the unlawful demonstration was ‘imminent,’ as barricades went up to restrict access to the downtown
A demonstrator is arrested by police in Ottawa on Friday morning, as they begin to remove protesters demanding an end to vaccine mandates in a final sweep of the Freedom Convoy protests
Meanwhile, the city’s Light Rail Transit line was suspended Friday in the section that runs underneath Ottawa’s truck blockaded downtown.
The service runs above ground either side of district, and is normally a busy commuter route bringing people in.
Officials have cited weather reasons for the closure, following a prolonged snowfall in the city and temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
However shutting the downtown service effectively reinforces Ottawa police’s new security zone around the area announced Thursday by Chief Bell.
The truckers, joined by thousands of demonstrators and some 400 vehicles, turned the streets around Parliament into a noisy party zone since first arriving on January 28, in what has become one of the worst crises to hit Trudeau since he took power in 2015.
Police made a handful of arrests Thursday evening, including of Barber, one of the main fundraisers and organizers, after authorities said action was imminent. Barber went without resistance after police told him he was being arrested for mischief.
‘We absolutely are committed to end this unlawful demonstration. We have the plan, we have the commitment, we have the resources,’ Chief Bell told reporters on Thursday.
Trudeau invoked emergency measures on Monday giving his government extraordinary powers to end the unrest
Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell has vowed that the protests over vaccine mandates, now in their third week, will end this weekend, warning demonstrators: ‘It’s time to go, this is coming to an end.’
Police will set up a perimeter with 100 checkpoints around downtown to stop people without legitimate reason from entering, he said.
‘This weekend will look very different than the past three weekends,’ he added.
Previous chief Peter Sloly quit this week amid residents’ fury about what they saw as police inaction.
The truckers’ protests started against vaccine mandates for cross-border drivers, a measure in place in the United States, too. But slowly it spread across Canada and morphed into an anti-government movement.
Protesters blocked several land crossings with the United States, including the busiest, the Ambassador Bridge which connects to Detroit, for six days, hurting both economies.
Calling the blockades a threat to democracy, Trudeau invoked emergency measures on Monday giving his government extraordinary powers to end the unrest. Government officials said they were worried about extremists causing violence.
Under law, any use of the Emergencies Act must be brought before Parliament within seven days for approval.
Debate began Thursday and will continue, according to the Act, ‘without interruption’ until the vote is called. After Friday’s planned vote was cancelled, the House faced a Monday deadline to act.
Addressing the House on Thursday, Trudeau pleaded with legislators to support his extraordinary powers, which have enabled him to summarily freeze bank accounts and crypto wallets tied to the protests in a bid to cut off funding for the movement.
‘It’s high time that these illegal and dangerous activities stop,’ Trudeau declared in Parliament, not far from where the more than 300 trucks were parked in the protest’s final stand around Parliament Hill.
‘They are a threat to our economy and our relationship with trading partners,’ he said. ‘They are a threat to public safety.’
Opposition Leader Candice Bergen of the Conservative Party responded by slamming Trudeau’s request as ‘not consistent with fundamental freedoms.’
On Thursday, legislation upholding Trudeau’s declaration under the Emergencies Act was presented in Parliament, where Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs voiced fierce opposition. However, the left-leaning New Democrats said they would reluctantly support Trudeau’s minority Liberal government, virtually ensuring passage of the measure upholding his emergency powers in the House of Commons. Together the two parties hold 184 seats out of 338 in the lower chamber.
Workers are seen carrying a piece of fencing that will be used to create the Secure Zone in Ottawa on Thursday
Police confront demonstrators as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates, in Ottawa
Police officers detain a man, as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Police arrest a demonstrator as they work to end the protest, which started in opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and grew into a broader anti-government demonstration and occupation
A man is escorted by police as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates, in Ottawa
Canadian police officers stand guard during the police crackdown on Friday
‘The Government should not have the power to close the bank accounts of Canadians on a whim,’ Bergen told Parliament.
‘I urge all members of this House—proceed with extreme caution. Now is the time to stand up for your constituents, to show real leadership, to help heal our divisions, to listen to those we disagree with.’
Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the center-left Bloc Québécois, said that his party would join with Conservatives in opposing Trudeau’s emergency powers.
In Quebec, the memory of the 1970 October Crisis, when Trudeau’s father flooded the streets with soldiers using emergency war powers in response to a diplomat’s kidnapping, still rings bitterly for many.
However, when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh signaled his party’s support for Trudeau, it became clear that the Liberals would almost certainly have the votes to defeat any opposition.
Singh said his party would withdraw its support if the emergency powers are abused, telling the House that Canada reached this point through a failure of political and police leadership at multiple levels.
‘We are not proud of supporting these measures,’ Singh said in response to a question.
Meanwhile, many protesters on Parliament Hill said they would not leave until their demands were met.
‘End the mandates, give us our rights and this is over,’ said Chris Dacey on Thursday. ‘We’ll all go back to our families.’
The border blockades turned the pressure on Trudeau to act swiftly, and U.S. President Joe Biden asked him to use federal powers.
‘The illegal blockades and occupations have to stop and the borders have to remain open,’ Trudeau told legislators on Thursday as Parliament started debate on the Emergencies Act, which needs to be passed within seven days of an announcement.
But the official opposition Conservative Party says there was no need for the Emergencies Act, especially since the border blockades are over.
Conservative Parliamentarian Jeremy Patzer told the House of Commons on Thursday that people around the world were alarmed to see Trudeau ‘come down on peaceful protesters with a sledgehammer.’
‘It is absolutely shameful,’ he added.