OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Authorities in Canada say they are beginning to arrest truckers who have paralyzed traffic in Ottawa for three weeks in a protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Police in Ottawa tweeted that some protesters are surrendering and being arrested Friday morning outside Parliament Hill.
Police already arrested two of the protest’s leaders late Thursday and have sealed off much of the downtown area to outsiders.
The capital represents the self-styled Freedom Convoy’s last stronghold after weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the U.S. and caused economic harm to both countries.
Many of the truckers have vowed not to leave even if it means being jailed or losing their licenses under Canada’s Emergencies Act.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canada’s House of Commons canceled its work on Friday amid rapidly increasingly signs police were about to begin breaking up the three-week protest by hundreds of truckers angry over the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Ottawa police made it clear on Thursday they were preparing to end the siege near Parliament Hill and remove the more than 300 trucks. The city’s interim police chief warned that “action is imminent.”
Police arrested two protest leaders late Thursday.
House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota warned lawmakers on Friday to “stay away from the downtown core until further notice” because of an expected police operation.
Lawmakers had been able to work uninterrupted for the last three weeks despite the protests outside by the self-styled Freedom Convoy.
The capital represented the movement’s last stronghold after three weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the U.S and caused a political crisis for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The protests also have shaken Canada’s reputation for civility and inspired similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Trudeau on Monday invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act, empowering law enforcement authorities to declare the blockades illegal, tow away trucks, arrest the drivers, freeze their bank accounts and suspend their licenses.
The protesters around the country in trucks, tractors and motor homes initially focused on Canada’s vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country. But the movement soon morphed into a broad attack on COVID-19 precautions and Trudeau’s government.
Gillies reported from Toronto.