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Protestors continue blockade at Coutts border crossing

Click to play video: 'Protestors continue blockade at Coutts border crossing' Protestors continue blockade at Coutts border crossing
Premier Jason Kenney is calling for an immediate end to a blockade of highway 4 near the Coutts border crossing, while RCMP continue to ask drivers to stay away and the Canada Border Services Agency says non-essential travel is not advised there. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Jan 30, 2022

An RCMP traffic advisory remained in place Sunday for Highway 4, south of Lethbridge to the Canada-Montana border.

The advisory was issued Saturday when protestors fighting COVID-19 restrictions clogged up the road at the Coutts crossing.

Traffic was backed up about two kilometres early Sunday afternoon.

Aerial shot of protestors at the Coutts border crossing Jan. 30, 2022. Global News

The Canada Border Services Agency announced while the border remains open, travellers should expect extensive delays.

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Travellers are advised to use other ports of entry and consult the Directory of CBSA Offices and Services to confirm hours of service before they head out.

Protestors had also blocked access to the village of Coutts, making it very difficult for emergency crews to get in and out.

Sunday morning, RCMP told Global News an ambulance was able to use a back trail into the village and is on standby in case medical help is needed.

“It’s scary,” said Coutts Mayor Jim Willett. “If we had to bring in fire trucks there’s no way to get up the shoulder. And maybe you could run through the back roads and finally get there, but all of that is time and in an emergency situation time is very important,”

Willett said on Sunday while he believes in the right to peaceful protest, he draws the line at interfering with commerce and people’s ability to make a living.

“I do not believe in the total concept of blocking an international port. I know for a fact we have produce trucks sitting on the other side of the border with the clock ticking on the guys that are driving it. They will start paying penalties because they have to deliver by a certain time,” he said.

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“You are going to start seeing the shortages that everybody talks about, they will be real. Because you have blocked the main link in the supply chain that comes from the south.”

Protestors cheering on a truck convoy near the Coutts border crossing Jan. 29, 2022. Global News

Willett said he’s heard there are no plans to move the blockade any time soon, although police are in talks with organizers. He adds the protest has been peaceful so far.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley issued a statement Sunday condemning the blockade.

“The blockade of emergency vehicles to Albertans in need, and the disruption in the flow of vital goods through our major transportation corridor, is both dangerous and disgraceful,” Notley said in the news release.

“It puts lives at risk, hurts our economy, and hurts families. To put it bluntly, a small group first claiming to be concerned about the possibility of grocery shortages have now most assuredly caused them.”

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Premier Jason Kenney released a statement Sunday afternoon condemning the blockade, saying it violates the Alberta Traffic Safety Act and must end.

“As I said last week, Canadians have a democratic right to engage in lawful protests,” Kenney posted to Twitter.

I urge those involved in this truck convoy protest to do so as safely as possible, and not to create road hazards which could lead to accidents or unsafe conditions for other drivers. If participants in this convoy cross the line and break the law, I expect police to take appropriate action.”

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The Opposition is also calling on Kenney to direct his MLA for Taber-Warner to end his participation in the protest.

A truck parked near the Coutts border crossing as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions Jan. 30, 2022. Global News

 

 

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