By Owen Fullerton
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in response to the ongoing protest in Ottawa and blockades at key border crossings in Ontario.
With Friday morning’s announcement, the Ontario government introduces new emergency measures that will open the door for harsher penalties against protesters, including $100,000 in fines and up to a year of imprisonment.
Ford said that the measures are temporary, but the Ontario government plans to legislate to bring forward legislation to make them permanent law.
He added that they will not impede anyone’s right to protest, but what we’re witnessing has gone past that.
“We are now two weeks into the siege of the City of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that is what it is,” Ford said.
“This is no longer a protest. With a protest, you peacefully make your point and you go back home, and I know that the vast majority of people did that. They came, they peacefully demonstrated, they made their point and they left.”
Ford said the voiced concerns of those Canadians have been heard.
While the emergency declaration will last for 42 hours, the province also successfully applied for a court order to freeze distribution of donations raised online for the protestors, and an application will be heard by Ontario Superior Court for an injunction that would make blocking the Ambassador Bridge illegal.
Protestors, who have frequently cited the shutdown of the economy as a reason for protest, have shut down the Ambassador Bridge which is used to transport nearly $400 million of commercial goods per day.
Meanwhile in Kingston, there has been a rally planned in support of the “freedom convoy”, with minimal details regarding a demonstration being posted to two Facebook groups frequently sharing anti-vax sentiments.
The demonstration planned to meet at Highway 38 at either 1:00 and slow roll through Kingston to City Hall, with demonstrators also encouraged to come to show their support for the movement outside of what is expected to be a vacant City Hall building.
It’s not clear if the new emergency measures will have an impact on these plans, but there has been a simultaneous counter protest planned at Confederation Park on Saturday afternoon condemning the “freedom convoy” and its’ supporters.
Kingston Police told YGK News they will be releasing a statement and are aware of the Slow Roll and counter-protest, and are advising motorists to avoid the route while they try to minimize traffic disruption, though it’s not clear what exactly that route will be.
Owen Fullerton is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the YGK NEWS. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada