Premier Doug Ford declares state of emergency amid protests at land border and in Ottawa

Click to play video: 'Ottawa protest encampments grow as Ontario declares state of emergency'
Ottawa protest encampments grow as Ontario declares state of emergency
WATCH: Ottawa protest encampments grow as Ontario declares state of emergency – Feb 11, 2022

Premier Doug Ford says he is declaring a state of emergency in Ontario and will enact emergency orders to end the protests that have crippled Ottawa for the last two weeks and have recently blocked the land border crossing in Windsor.

“Today, I am using my authority as premier of Ontario to declare a state of emergency in our province,” Ford said on Friday morning.

“And I will convene cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.”

Ford said this will include protecting international border crossings, 400-series highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways.

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Ontario declares state of emergency'
Trucker protests: Ontario declares state of emergency

The premier made the announcement alongside solicitor general Sylvia Jones, Attorney General Doug Downey and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney on Friday morning.
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“We are now two weeks into the siege of the city of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that is what it is. It’s an illegal occupation,” Ford said.

“This is no longer a protest. With a protest, you peacefully make your point and you go back home.”

Protesters descended on Ottawa two weeks ago as part of a convoy protest against COVID-19 mandates in place.

A blockade continues for the fifth straight day as demonstrators protest many COVID-19 restrictions at the Ambassador Bridge, the bridge linking Windsor, Ont., to Detroit. It is one of the busiest land border crossings in Canada.

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Doug Ford warns there will be ‘consequences’ if protests continue'
Trucker protests: Doug Ford warns there will be ‘consequences’ if protests continue
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Protesters first blocked the Ambassador Bridge on Monday.

Ford said fines for non-compliance will be severe, with a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year of jail time.

Additional authority is also being considered to take away the personal and commercial licences of anyone who does not comply with the orders, Ford said.

The measures are temporary, Ford added.

However, Ford said “we have every intention to bring new legislation forward that will make these measures permanent in law.”

“This will not impede the rights of Ontarians to peacefully protest. It will provide additional tools to help stop the illegal occupation of Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor,” he said.

Ford also echoed the same comments Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore made on Thursday about a timeline for lifting all COVID-19 measures in the province — including ending the vaccine passport system and masking.

He said the plan for lifting the measures was in place “well before this protest started and its a plan that we’ve been working on for months.”

A firm date for ending proof of vaccination in some indoor settings or removing the mask mandate has not yet been announced but Moore said it is coming “soon.”

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