Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday was expected to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to bring an end to trucker-led protests against Covid-19 health rules, as police arrested 11 people with a “cache of firearms” blocking a border crossing with the United States in Alberta.
Trudeau will invoke the Emergencies Act to give the government extra powers in a national crisis to bring an end to the trucker-led protests now entering a third week, according to public broadcaster CBC.
Hundreds of big rigs still clog the streets of the capital Ottawa.
And the threat of violence lingered, as federal police said they arrested 11 protesters with rifles, handguns, body armor and ammunition at the border between Coutts, Alberta and Sweet Grass, Montana, just a day after another key US-Canada border crossing was cleared.
“The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement.
Ontario, meanwhile, announced the lifting of vaccine passport requirements.
The truckers and their supporters are pushing back against mandatory vaccines and a wider anti-establishment agenda that has triggered copycat movements in France and the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, with some US truckers mulling a protest for March.
Facing growing pressure to act, Trudeau said Friday that all options “were on the table” for ending the “unlawful” demonstrations that are hurting the nation’s economic recovery.
He was to discuss the situation with premiers across the country and hold a news conference Monday at 4.30 pm (2130 GMT), a day after convening a special federal response group on efforts to end the occupation of Ottawa and remaining blockades of border crossings in Alberta and Manitoba.
The Emergencies Act has only been used once in peacetime — by Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during the October Crisis of 1970.
It saw troops sent to Quebec to restore order after the kidnappings by militant separatists of a British trade attache and a Quebec minister, Pierre Laporte, who was found strangled to death in the trunk of a car.