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Canada truckers warned US border blockade could stop emergency services: ‘It must end’

‘If participants in this convoy cross the line and break the law, I expect police to take appropriate action’

Arpan Rai
Monday 31 January 2022 16:21 GMT
Throngs of Canadians protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa
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Alberta premier Jason Kenney has said the blockade at the Canada-US border crossing could “dangerously” disrupt movement of emergency service vehicles, demanding that the mass vehicle build-up choking the route be ended immediately.

“The current blockade of Highway 4 at the Coutts border crossing violates the Alberta Traffic Safety Act. It is causing significant inconvenience for lawful motorists, and could dangerously impede the movement of emergency service vehicles. This blockage must end immediately,” Mr Kenney said in a statement.

He urged the truck convoy protestors to not create road hazards “which could lead to accidents or unsafe conditions for other drivers” while safely engaging in their democratic to lawfully protest.

“If participants in this convoy cross the line and break the law, I expect police to take appropriate action,” the premier said, issuing a warning.

Underlining the police’s federal responsibilities, Mr Kenney said that Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act allows police and prosecutors “additional penalties to levy as a tool to address blockades of highways and other infrastructure when and where they deem appropriate.”

A trail of stranded truckers and motorists trying to cross or reach the United States from Alberta is lining up at the border as Canada witnesses a protest by anti-vaxxers against vaccine mandates, masks and lockdowns.

Hundreds are stuck in the vehicle blockade running from the highway from south of Lethbridge, Alta to the border crossing in the village of Coutts since Saturday, reported Ottawa’s CTV news.

The protests were primarily aimed against vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the US-Canada border crossing, but spiralled into a protest against larger Covid restrictions and the Canadian federal administration.

Scott Ocelak, one of the convoy protesters, said the demonstration was the spark they needed.

"Everyone’s united and we just needed a spark, and this is the spark that we needed. We’re all on board and we’re all here together. It’s end all mandates for everybody," he said, sitting in his truck.

The “Freedom Convoy” is protesting against the mandate by Justin Trudeau-led administration which requires all the truckers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated against Covid. The mandate kicked into effect on 15 January.

However, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has said that a good share of protestors have a separate agenda to push as many of them did not have any ties to the trucking industry. A majority of the alliance’s truck drivers are vaccinated, the alliance pointed out.

Former US president Donald Trump also backed the protestors and said that the protestors are "doing more to defend American freedom than our own leaders by far."

"We want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way," he said in Texas on Saturday.

However, many trapped in the cross border situation feel helpless and frustrated with the sudden halt to their work despite being vaccinated against the virus.

“The protest makes no sense at all. Came back here and parked with a lot of other truckers who are all vaccinated and ready to head south and do our jobs,” David May said, reported CTV news.

In the profession for 15 years, May is stuck at the border with a load of meat he picked up for delivery in Portland, Oregon.

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