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The latest on protests against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa and beyond

The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, in Ottawa and various locations across Canada, on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. All times eastern: 10:00 p.m.
Protesters and supporters walk amongst trucks in downtown Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, in Ottawa and various locations across Canada, on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. All times eastern:

10:00 p.m.

Government House leader Mark Holland says the House of Commons will resume debate Saturday on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the illegal blockades.

This morning the Speaker and House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel today's (Friday's) sitting on the advice of parliamentary security.

Holland says on Twitter that the safety of MPs and all employees on Parliament Hill is paramount. 

The House began debating the government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act on Thursday. 

Earlier, Holland said the pause would not affect the outcome and MPs who want to speak will do so. 

He said MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion. 


7:55 p.m.

The Ottawa Police Service says officers have arrested more than 100 people in the crackdown on anti-government protesters in the city.

Police also say more than 20 vehicles have been towed in the push to end the three-week occupation of the capital.

Chris Barber, a protest organizer arrested yesterday, has been released on bail on the conditions he leaves Ontario by Wednesday and not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other major protest organizers.

Tamara Lich, another protest organizer who was arrested yesterday, is to appear in Ottawa court tomorrow morning for her bail hearing.


6:10 p.m.

Ottawa police say protesters are assaulting officers and have attempted to remove officers' weapons.

The force also says a bicycle was thrown at the feet of a horse in an attempt to injure it.

One person was arrested for intentionally harming a police service animal.

5:55 p.m.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is telling Justin Trudeau the prime minister's use of powers under the Emergencies Act have potential to do irreparable harm to Canadians and democratic society.  In a letter dated Thursday, Kenney says invoking the law is extraordinarily heavy-handed and beyond democratic norms.  Early this week the federal government made use of the Emergencies Act for the first time to allow for extra powers to quell blockades by anti-government protesters, including a weeks-long occupation of downtown Ottawa.

5:35 p.m.

Protesters who have been blocking a major street in downtown Winnipeg as part of a countrywide demonstration against COVID-19 measures have moved.

Police say the protesters left as part of negotiations with officers.

Participants have moved all their vehicles to a nearby park to try to minimize the effect on the community.

Police say the group has dwindled in size, but there are still up to 150 people participating on a daily basis.

Half a dozen farm vehicles, more than a dozen semi-trucks and other trailers and personal vehicles remain.

5:10 p.m.

A group of mounted police suddenly charged a large group of protesters facing police lines near the Senate in Ottawa.

Some in the crowd taunted the police, accusing them of being traitors but most protesters stood peacefully.

Then suddenly, in an apparent effort to move the crowd, mounted police charged.

Many in the shocked crowd ran, but others quickly reassembled after the horses left.

4:45 p.m.

The street in front of Parliament Hill is clearer than it was this morning after a handful of vehicles departed.

At least three semis that were parked parallel to the Centre Block left during the day, with one remaining driver saying the vehicles relocated elsewhere.

Where he didn't say.

Police are warning anyone remaining downtown could have their vehicle towed, even if they want to leave but are boxed in.

Protesters, meanwhile, have set up snow barricades across roads just south of Wellington Street, including one outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office that has hockey sticks poking out the top.


4 p.m.

Ottawa police have arrested 70 people in a massive operation to dismantle an anti-government protest that has choked the national capital for weeks.

Interim chief Steve Bell says the plan is "deliberate and methodical" and police are in control on the ground, but clearing the area will take time.

Police began enforcing against the protest on Thursday night, setting up about 100 checkpoints and arresting key organizers.

Many more officers descended upon the downtown core this morning, some clad in riot gear and holding what appeared to be tear-gas canisters.

Bell says police are still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully, but those arrested have been charged with various offences including mischief.

He says there has been no need to interact with the Children's Aid Society but it still "shocks and surprises" him that children are being put in harm's way.

He says police will continue to look after the kids' safety and security but he pleaded with parents with kids at the demonstration to get them out. 


3:15 p.m.

An Ontario judge has extended an order to keep a busy international bridge clear.

Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz has granted an extension of an injunction that prohibits blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge after his previous order was set to expire Monday.

Canada-bound traffic was blocked for a week at the bridge that connects Windsor, Ont., with Detroit by protesters who oppose COVID-19 measures and vaccine mandates.

The city argued there was an imminent threat by protesters to block the bridge again.


3 p.m.

Police continue to push back a crowd gathered at a major intersection near Parliament Hill.

Shouting at protesters to move back officers formed a line across Sussex Drive.

Those in the crowd were warned through a speaker to move back or face being arrested.

The crowd watched as police ordered a camper van be towed whose windows had been smashed in.


2:40 p.m.

Ottawa police say 21 people have been arrested and 21 vehicles have been towed as the force steps up enforcement against anti-government protesters who have been camped outside Parliament Hill.

The force made the announcement after police clad in riot gear and touting gas masks and tear-gas guns converged on a large crowd of protesters to contain them near the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa.


1:30 p.m.

Police in military green carrying riot gear, including gas masks and tear-gas guns, are converging on a large crowd of protesters to contain them near the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa.

Lines of dozens of police from the Durham region of Ontario are also advancing toward the crowd of protesters, to taunts of "shame," "traitor" and "choose your side."

Other protesters are hollering at police, "you are working for a dictator," "we are peaceful demonstrators," and "this is illegal." 

Some protesters are fleeing behind their lines of trucks as the police advance, but a large crowd, waving Canadian, Quebec and Métis flags, or carrying "freedom" placards, has been hemmed in by lines of police, including officers on horses with face shields and an armoured vehicle. 

A few arrests, including of a protester dragged along the ground from the crowd, are taking place but the tense standoff has continued for hours. 

Police are warning protesters to move back as their lines creep forward, telling them they have an escape route along Sussex Drive. 

Police say they have been told to clear the area, warning protesters they will be arrested if they stay.


1:25 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the progress made to clear border blockades is not set in stone, but efforts to set up new blockades have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Mendicino tells a news conference he was very alarmed to hear of a report that Windsor police arrested a man threatening the life of the city's mayor.

In Ottawa, Mendicino says police officers from as far away as Vancouver have joined the operation to clear protests and arrests are being made.

He says Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell has cited his government's invocation of the Emergencies Act as helping his force take action against the protest.


1:05 p.m.

Ontario’s premier is again encouraging demonstrators to leave downtown Ottawa now that arrests are being made.

Doug Ford says there are indications that police are making progress on clearing the weeks-long occupation and says law enforcement has his full support.

Ford also denied that the situation could have been resolved sooner if his government had taken emergency measures earlier than a week ago.

He says the province sent resources immediately after the protest began, and says progress is being made now because all three levels of government are responding.


1 p.m.

The City of Windsor is in court arguing to extend an injunction granted last week that prohibits blocking the Ambassador Bridge for 10 days.

Police cleared a blockade there Sunday after protesters and vehicles shut down Canada-bound traffic from Detroit for a week.

The city is arguing argues there is a threat by protesters to reoccupy the bridge.

A lawyer for the group Citizens of Freedoms argues the continuation of the injunction has questionable utility given traffic is flowing to and from the bridge.


12:45 p.m.

One of the main convoy protest organizers, Pat King, has been arrested.

King posted a video of himself being arrested on Facebook Live.

In the video, an officer can be seen approaching his vehicle and informing him he's under arrest for counselling to commit mischief, counselling to obstruct police and counselling to disobey a court order.

The officer asks him to step out of the vehicle and King says he'd like to speak to his lawyer. 

The officer says he'd like to make sure everything is safe and King responds that his hands are free and empty and he's always been safe.

King then tells the camera calmly that officers "cornered" him and he's being arrested, before the video ends.


12:25 p.m.

Pat King, one of the main protest organizers, is asking truck drivers to retreat from downtown Ottawa to a truck stop.

His comments come as officers have moved in and started arresting more people.

In a new Facebook Live video, King says he wants truck drivers to regroup rather than risk losing their assets.

He still says people who want to go to Parliament Hill on foot should do so. 


12:10 p.m.

Ottawa police are accusing some protesters of using children as a shield against advancing officers.

The police say without providing detail that the children will be brought to "a place of safety."

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa has said it is working closely alongside police to help ensure the safety and well-being of children in downtown Ottawa.

Police are also playing a recorded message telling protesters: “You must leave, you will be arrested.”


12:05 p.m.

Trucks are starting to blare their horns as police on the eastern edge of downtown Ottawa move in on a crowd of protesters supported by an armoured truck and under the watch of rooftop officers.

The scene among protesters gathered around the Rideau Centre and adjacent Westin Hotel is one of nervousness amid fears of being boxed in by advancing officers, who have been seen pulling at least one demonstrator through their lines and handcuffing them.

Police have also brought out horses as part of their effort to clear the protesters from the area, which they have occupied for the past three weeks.

Protest organizer Benjamin Dichter has taken to Twitter saying one of the demonstrators was forcibly removed from his truck, and that it is time for protesters to leave.


11.15 a.m.

Some protesters on the outer edges of the downtown protest are packing their bags and rolling suitcases into the back of their pickups, preparing to leave.

But others, blocked by rows of semis, say they are unable to get out if they wish to, and have no plans to do so anyway. 

One woman heating up hotdogs says she has no idea what is happening and is relying on word of mouth for reports of police action. 

The atmosphere is quiet and pensive in the streets surrounding the downtown core area, with some protesters saying they are willing to stay until they are led away in handcuffs. 

But on Wellington Street speakers are blasting out loud music as a small crowd of protesters, wearing Canadian flags as capes, dance and cheer, next to lines of trucks idling their engines. 


11 a.m.

Ottawa police say they are aware of a concerted effort to flood 911 and their non-emergency policing reporting line.

Police say in a tweet that this endangers lives and is completely unacceptable — and a crime.

Police say they are tracking calls and will charge anyone who is deliberately interfering with emergencies.

Police also say that if protesters choose to leave the area but cannot move their vehicles, they will be towed to a location where protesters can pick them up.


10:40 a.m.

Pat King, a leading figure among the protesters, is asking demonstrators to walk to Parliament Hill as police are arresting more people in an effort to clear the downtown core.

In a Facebook live this morning, King also asks for trucks to jackknife in front of tow trucks to prevent them from moving vehicles.

He threatened to find out which companies drivers belong to and says the tow truck drivers involved are committing “career suicide.”

King told protesters trying to get into the downtown precinct to take a cab or an Uber and tell police they are going to work or a hotel.


10:35 a.m.

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa says it is working closely alongside police to help ensure the safety and well-being of children in downtown Ottawa.

The society says it has not yet had to intervene with regard to children or youth connected to the demonstration, nor have any been transferred to the care of the society.

It says that as police action unfolds, parents involved should make the necessary alternate care arrangements for their children.


10:30 a.m.

Police have started towing trucks away from an area on the eastern edge of Ottawa's downtown core.

Tow trucks could be seen moving the vehicles from Nicholas Street after making arrests there earlier this morning.

Police say other people who have taken part in the three-week-long protest in Ottawa have decided to leave on their own accord.

They are warning anyone who doesn't leave may be arrested.

But not everyone is ready to leave.

One trucker parked by the city's Rideau Centre shopping mall says he is willing to get arrested before moving.

On Kent Street, near the western edge of the core, two protesters say they don't plan to leave either.

One, who only provided his first name, Dave, says he expects thousands of people to pour back into the core this weekend despite the 100 checkpoints that police have set up to prevent anyone from joining the convoy.

Asked about the police warnings, Dave says it's a little nerve-racking, but adds that protesters are peaceful people.


8:35 a.m.

Ottawa police say a fresh round of arrests of protesters camped outside Parliament Hill has begun.

Police say on Twitter there is a large police presence on Nicholas Street downtown and protesters are being warned to leave immediately.

They say some are surrendering and being arrested.

The action follows several arrests made Thursday night including of key organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.


8:15 a.m.

The Senate has issued a notice saying it will remain adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.

The upper chamber had planned to begin debating the Emergencies Act measures today.

The announcement came after the House of Commons sitting was also cancelled due to expected police action against protests outside its doors.

The emergency measures in the act are already in place but require Senate and House confirmation.


8:05 a.m.

Some denizens of the downtown Ottawa encampment appear alert to the possibility of more police action today, while others seem unconcerned.

Lyndsay Kruisselbrink says the mood among protesters is "very calm."

She says everybody is happy and feeling "lots of love," adding the crowd is like a family to her.

She says this is her third trip to the protest on Parliament Hill and the crowd has at least doubled in size from last week.

She says she plans to stay until Monday.


7:40 a.m.

Ottawa police say Tamara Lich, a key organizer of the convoy protest that ha seized the city for weeks, has a court appearance scheduled today.

Police say Lich, 49, from Medicine Hat, Alta., has been charged with counselling to commit mischief.

Police say they issued a notice to protesters Thursday warning that anyone blocking streets or helping others to block them is committing a criminal offence and could be arrested.

Protesters were also told to cease unlawful activity or they would face charges or fines.


7:25 a.m.

Ottawa police say convoy protest organizer Chris Barber has a court appearance today.

Police say he has been charged with counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to commit the offence of obstructing police.

Officers arrested the 46-year-old from Swift Current, Sask., Thursday at the protests outside Parliament Hill.

Another key organizer, Tamara Lich, was also arrested. 


7:15 a.m.

Government House leader Mark Holland says the Speaker and House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel today's sitting on advice of parliamentary security.

He says the government is closely monitoring the police operation in downtown Ottawa today and will await further advice from security officials on when the House can reopen, but it hopes that can happen Saturday.

The House began debating the government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act on Thursday. Holland says today's pause will not affect the outcome and MPs who want to speak will do so.

He says the House will do its work and MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.


7 a.m.

The House of Commons will not sit today to debate emergency measures the government has brought in to deal with the protest just outside its doors that is entering its fourth week.

A note from Speaker Anthony Rota says the sitting today is cancelled because of a police operation expected to take place by Parliament Hill and other locations around Ottawa's downtown core.

The note goes on to say that anyone not in the parliamentary precinct should stay away from the core until further notice.


6:45 a.m.

The lights on police vehicles are flickering in intersections across Ottawa's downtown core this morning.

Officers are checking every vehicle looking to get into the secure area that spans roughly four square kilometres.

Officers from provincial, national and other municipal forces are policing the perimeter with about 100 checkpoints to keep out anyone intent on joining the protest.

Trucks are idling on the street in front of Parliament Hill as a bitter winter storm pummels the national capital, covering vehicles in snow and ice.

Fires are also going under tents set up near the vehicles as protesters huddle to stay warm.

After police arrested two organizers of the so-called Freedom Convoy last night, and arrested one other, denizens of the downtown encampment appear alert to the possibility of more police action.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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