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Canada vows crackdown on owners of trucks involved in protests

Feds will freeze corporate bank accounts, suspend insurance, says deputy prime minister.

A police officer talks to a trucker during the Freedom Convoy protest in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. (Photo: Nate Tabak/FreightWaves)

The Canadian government plans to crack down on the owners of trucks involved in the protests and blockades that have swept the country, a senior official said on Monday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the extraordinary step of declaring a national emergency.

“We are today serving notice: If your truck is being used in these illegal blockades, your corporate accounts will be frozen, the insurance on your vehicle will be suspended,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said. “Send your semi-trailers home.”

Freeland made the threat after Trudeau announced that he was invoking the country’s Emergencies Act in response to the protests. It gives the federal government broad powers, including the ability to suspend some civil liberties, for 30 days.  

By invoking the act — a first by any Canadian prime minister — Trudeau said the federal government will be able to deploy more police resources to keep border crossings including the Ambassador Bridge open and support efforts to reopen others. It will also give the government the power to force tow-truck operators to remove semi-trucks blocking borders.

Hundreds of commercial trucks remain in protests near the U.S.-Canada border in Coutts, Alberta, and Emerson, Manitoba, and in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as part of the Freedom Convoy

Freeland provided no details about how truckers and carriers involved in the protests would be targeted. The protests have included many owner-operators bonded to carriers — with and without their blessing. 

The measures targeting truckers and carriers follow a threat by Ontario Premier Doug Ford that commercial drivers involved in the protests could lose their licenses

Trucking industry group backs government; protest organizer tells supporters to ‘hold the line’

Much of the Canadian trucking industry has distanced itself from the protests, which began in response to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers. The largest industry group, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), individual carriers and individual drivers have condemned the protests.

The CTA welcomed Trudeau’s decision to invoke the emergencies act, but said in a statement that it will be “clarifying with federal officials regarding other legal consequences/penalties facing those engaged in illegal blockades utilizing personal and commercial vehicles.”

“Order must be restored to our borders and critical infrastructure that are being blockaded,” CTA President Steve Laskowski said in a statement.

In anticipation of Trudeau’s announcement, one of the leaders of the Freedom Convoy, Tamara Lich, said the protest will remain in Ottawa until all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“Hold the line,” Lich said during a news conference.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association criticized Trudeau’s use of emergency powers.

“The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act,” the association said in a tweet.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in trade disrupted

The blockades at the borders have, ironically, largely impacted the trucking industry and its cross-border drivers, who are overwhelmingly vaccinated. The protests have added hours of transit time for drivers — including unpaid time waiting in traffic for many — and slowed down the operation of carriers. 

The most significant blockade shut down the busiest commercial crossing between the U.S. and Canada, the Ambassador Bridge, for a week until its reopening late Sunday. Freeland said the Ambassador Bridge blockade affected CA$390 million ($306 million) of trade per day. 

“Critical supply chains are being disrupted,” Trudeau said. “This is hurting workers who rely on these jobs to feed their families.”

Protests are continuing to block traffic at U.S.-Canada border crossings in Coutts, Alberta and Emerson, Manitoba. 

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  2. Hunter Biden

    The elitist coward Trudeau is an example of the tiny group of self-serving tyrants who are making decisions for the masses. WE give them their power and it is time to take it back. Elitists like Trudeau deserve whatever comes to them and never forget, they are prepared to do the same and worse to anyone who dares challenge them. Stand with your fellow man, get rid of tyrannical government parasites, and take back your freedom.

  3. Medina Brasel

    The CTA should be ashamed of themselves supporting what amounts to Marshall Law. Trucking is a targeted industry by Trudeau’s administration in their New Green Deal support; siding with them now wont save you later, it will just bring about your demise sooner.

  4. Richard M Rehmer

    We Americans thought there would be a shakeup in our government over the mandates, I would say that Canada will have a changing of the guards real soon as Trudeau is acting more like a dictator than a Prime minister, how long before Canada parliament votes no confidence in the current party running Canada or will they back Trudeau until elections. You can not abuse citizens like Trudeau is and expect them to vote for you. How many lives has he just ruined over his dictator action?

  5. Darren Bogach

    This is a ridiculous over-reach by a childish prime minister. Too proud to go and speak to working people, he prefers to call them names, along with a good portion of the general population that agree with the freedom convoy. This man child needs to be removed from power soon. There was no real reason for him nor Biden to impose these foolish mandates in the first place.

  6. Detroit Man

    Perfect, they are going to try and destroy these businesses. I assume when there are what are considered “unlawful gatherings”, they will attempt to destroy each and every one of their citizens who demonstrates? This is utter BS and the citizens of Canada need to put them in their place.

  7. Charles

    The most ridiculous part of the whole thing is Trudeau could do something extremely simple by lifting the mandates and the whole thing would go away but now he’s invoking emergency powers on the verge of inciting a civil war with his tyranny 🔥

Comments are closed.

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected].