Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen is offering a message for the trucker convoy that has been encamped in Ottawa for 14 days, as well as those joining splinter blockades across the country.
“I want to speak directly to Canadians who are demonstrating here in Ottawa and across the country. Your protests began with truckers and you have grown into an international phenomenon,” Bergen said in the House of Commons on Thursday morning.
“To all of you who are taking part in the protests, I believe the time has come to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action, and come together. The economy you want to see reopened is hurting.
“I believe this is not what you want to do.”
Bergen had previously offered statements of support for the convoy, and members of the Conservative Party met with the demonstrators — a move Mayor Jim Watson called “an absolute disgrace.”
Tensions in the city remain high as the trucker convoy remains encamped at multiple sites, with police still urging the need for an additional 1,800 officers to help them end the demonstrations.
On Thursday, Ottawa police reported that they are witnessing “a concerted effort to flood” 911 lines, as protesters also mobilized at the local airport and hackers took aim at city council.
Splinter demonstrations of people professing support for the goals of the convoy have since emerged at key border crossings, including the Ambassador Bridge, which runs from Windsor, Ont., into Detroit, Mich. The bridge is the busiest international crossing in the country and a key artery for trade.
But with the routes into Canada snarled with convoy members and routes into the U.S. completely blocked for the fourth day, pressure is rising on governments to act to end the blockade.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan condemned the blockade on Thursday, saying it is hurting Michigan workers and families, and called on all levels of Canadian government to act.
“It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade,” Whitmer wrote.
“They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so we can continue growing our economy, supporting good-paying jobs and lowering costs for families.”
Canadian federal ministers have repeatedly described the trucker convoy and the blockades as “unlawful” and “illegal” but so far, have faced criticisms over whether they are doing enough to help end the actions that Ottawa police say they are not equipped to without additional support.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said on Wednesday that police have the tools to enforce the law, and it is up to them to decide whether and how to use those tools.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino added that the convoy members are not above the law.
“They pose serious dangers for the economy, and they are breaking the law,” he said, and stressed that the convoys are hurting Canadians who are already struggling after two years of the pandemic.
“They shouldn’t have to choose between being safe or having a job, and that is exactly the ultimatum the convoy is putting to ordinary Canadians.”
A trilateral working group that began meeting this week in response to the convoy is expected to meet again on Thursday, with Blair and Mendicino saying on Wednesday that a member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government would be taking part as well for the first time.
It is not clear if that remains the case.