Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency on Friday and said he’ll use all government resources to end a two-week protest by Canadian truckers over Covid-19 rules. And hours later, a judge ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge over the U.S.-Canadian border to leave.
Ford said the trucker protest amounts to a “siege” of downtown Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor and Detroit.
“It’s an illegal occupation,” Ford told reporters. “This is no longer a protest.”
After the judge’s order, police warned that anyone blocking streets or helping to block streets could be arrested. It was not immediately clear when or if law enforcement officers would be sent in to remove the demonstrators.
Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court said during a virtual hearing that the order would be effective at 7 p.m. to give protesters time to leave.
His decision came after a 4 1/2-hour court hearing at which the city of Windsor and lawyers for auto parts makers argued that the blockade was causing undue economic harm for the city and region.
Supporters of the protesters, some of them truckers, argued that an order would disrupt their right to peacefully protest vaccine mandates that hinder their ability to earn a living.