Authorities in Canada are moving to clear truckers blockading the US-Canada border to protest the Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Alberta said: “What may have begun as a peaceful assembly quickly turned into an unlawful blockade.”
“While the Alberta RCMP has been in a position to conduct enforcement, we have been engaged with protesters at the Coutts border crossing in an effort to find a peaceful and safe resolution for all involved.”
“We thought we had a path to resolution, the protesters eventually chose not to comply.”
“As of this morning, further action is being taken by the Alberta RCMP as this blockade continues to impede the ability for emergency agencies to provide full services to area residents,” it added.
“It has also negatively impacted the flow of goods and services, and impedes the public’s freedom of movement.”
The truckers protest at the border is part of the ongoing nationwide “Freedom Convoy” protest against Covid mandates.
The protest at the border started after the Canadian government issued a mandate requiring Canadian truckers to be fully vaccinated from 15 January in a bid to control the spread of Covid.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney referred to the protest as “unlawful” at a news conference on Tuesday and urged the protesters to remain peaceful.
“We have now received reports of RCMP officers being swarmed,” he was quoted as saying by CTV.
“That’s not peaceful. For our situation here in Alberta, once again I would plead for calm and ask folks whose tempers may be running high to channel that frustration into peaceful and lawful protest.”
“To the folks who are so frustrated, I share the frustration,” he added.
“Please understand that we have tried to take a minimal approach to restrictions, but a necessary one to avoid even more damaging cancellations to surgeries.”
While the blockade appeared to be smaller on Tuesday, Canadian Press reported that vehicles could be seen at the border as far as the eye could see.
Authorities said that more trucks had arrived as they tried to move the protesters.
“We (began) to remove some vehicles from the protest area,” said RCMP Cpl Curtis Peters.
“A few left. I didn’t get an exact count of how many went out. And then we received notification that additional protesters were arriving on the scene and came around our secured area.”
The blockade has left several dozens of truckers stranded in the cold.
“I’m all for if you want to protest, but they’ve taken this way, way too far,” said Garnet Lang a trucker bringing in oil rig materials from Texas to Alberta to CTV.
“They’ve got a four-lane highway and one of the major crossings into the US blocked.”
“That’s not how Canadians behave,” said trucker Lovepreet Singh to The Canadian Press.
“There are people (that) have medical issues like blood pressure issues, thyroid issues, asthma.”
Alberta’s minister of transportation Rajan Sawhney also urged truckers to end the protest in a statement on Twitter.
“Everyone has the right to protest peacefully, but our supply chain and the livelihoods of those trying to cross the border should not suffer because of that,” she said.
Canada’s prime minister who recently announced that he has tested positive for Covid and urged everyone to get vaccinated and boosted has refused to meet the protesters.
“We are not intimidated by those who hurl abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless,” he said in an address to the nation on Monday.
“We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism.”