‘Increasingly severe’ penalties for convoy protesters who break law, feds warn

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Demonstrators gather in Ottawa for 3rd weekend in a row'
Trucker protests: Demonstrators gather in Ottawa for 3rd weekend in a row
WATCH: Trucker protests — Demonstrators gather in Ottawa for 3rd weekend in a row – Feb 12, 2022

The federal government warned Saturday that consequences for trucker convoy protesters who break the law will be “increasingly severe” as an occupation in Ottawa extends past two weeks and blockades spring up across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened a meeting Saturday with ministers and senior officials to see how protests, occupations and blockades can be brought “under control.”

“I convened the Incident Response Group again today – we went over the efforts underway to address the illegal blockades and occupations,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

“We’ll continue to make sure municipal, provincial, and federal authorities have what they need to end the blockades and protect public safety.”

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The talks included “building on the Ontario government’s announcement of stiffer fines and penalties,” and providing “all appropriate” federal resources to protect public order, according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s office.

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Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in Ontario on Friday, which allows authorities to give larger penalties — up to $100,000 in fines and a year in prison.

The group on Saturday emphasized the “very real economic harm facing Canada as each hour passes where these illegal blockades remain unresolved,” according to the readout.

Click to play video: 'Trucker convoy protesters gather in Toronto for second straight weekend'
Trucker convoy protesters gather in Toronto for second straight weekend

“The Prime Minister stressed that border crossings cannot, and will not, remain closed, and that all options remain on the table,” the readout said.

Blockades have convened at multiple points across Canada’s border with the U.S., including the country’s busiest crossing at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., as well as in Coutts, Alta., and Emerson, Man.

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Police attempted to clear the blockade in Windsor on Saturday but hit a stand-still as the day wore on and hundreds of protesters continued to gather near the bridge.

Ministers and officials have also reached out to industry officials and those responsible for “critical infrastructure,” including airports, ports, and railways, to “ensure that they have the resources in place to safeguard against disruptions and further blockades.”

The incident response group will meet again tomorrow as the federal government considers “further immediate actions.”

The meeting comes as Ottawa police said Saturday that over 4,000 people protested in the city during the day and enforcement was limited due to “safety concerns” such as  “aggressive, illegal behaviour.”

Police also said that an “enhanced” Integrated Command Centre has been created in coordination with the Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP that will allow greater collaboration between the forces.

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