RCMP officers moved in on protesters at a blockade on the Trans-Canada Highway between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on Wednesday night, and arrested three people for mischief.
The move came more than 24 hours after protesters, angry at Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, first brought traffic to a standstill.
The closure had led to traffic chaos, disrupted commerce and forced the cancellation of more than 100 medical appointments.
At certain points throughout the day, tensions have been high at the protest. Global News reporters at the scene witnessed a physical scuffle, confrontations with police, as well as disagreements between protesters and truck drivers.
At around 7:30 p.m. AT, officers told protesters they were an “unlawful assembly” and asked them to move off the highway. RCMP officers stood in a line, facing off with the protesters.
“The RCMP respects the Charter right of all Canadians to peacefully assemble, however blockading a highway is a criminal offence and this type of action will not be tolerated,” RCMP stated in a news release.
RCMP said they had no choice but to move in, after “unsuccessfully trying to resolve the blockade through dialogue.”
“Three protestors who failed to comply were arrested for Mischief and were later released on undertakings. They will appear in court at a later date,” RCMP noted.
Just before 9 p.m. AT, the last of the trucks at the blockade was able to move through.
By 10:30 p.m., the border had been fully reopened.
On Thursday, several RCMP officers remained at the border, but traffic was moving through in both directions.
The Atlantic Bubble was supposed to kick off on Wednesday, but Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced Tuesday afternoon that people coming from New Brunswick will have isolation requirements based on their vaccination status and testing.
Rankin said it was because of New Brunswick’s decision last week to open their province to the rest of Canada for those who have had one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, without the need to self-isolate.
The move prompted a blockade on the Trans-Canada Highway between the two provinces that began late Tuesday afternoon, and existed in some form throughout the day Wednesday.
Rankin, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston, and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs all spoke out Wednesday — calling for an end to the blockade.
The Atlantic premiers spoke in the evening, and Higgs told reporters afterwards that he had offered to share with Nova Scotia the information his province gathers from motorists as they enter New Brunswick from the rest of the country.
“We ask them for registration and proof of vaccination and we give them the rules and regulations based on what we’re doing. But we do that same thing for every other Atlantic province. We tell them the rules for each respective province,” Higgs said.
“We can give (Nova Scotia) the names of who is coming to Nova Scotia and they can call them and contact them, have them tested or isolated, whatever they want to do. It doesn’t impact what should happen within the Atlantic bubble. The rest of us should be able to move freely through the four provinces.”
He said Rankin said he would consider the idea, but gave no commitment on timing.
With files from The Canadian Press