Canada’s Trudeau invokes emergency powers as demonstrations persist

The government of Canada declared an emergency Monday, targeting demonstrators who have tied up the capital city of Ottawa and critical border crossings. After weeks of obstruction, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to halt the anti-vaccine protests. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The government of Canada declared an emergency, targeting demonstrators who have tied up the capital city of Ottawa and critical border crossings.

    John Yang reports.

  • John Yang:

    After weeks of disruption across Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers for the first time in peacetime today, in a bid to halt anti-vaccine protests, including giving the government the authority to prohibit public assembly and some travel.

  • Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister:

    The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupation.

    The police will be given more tools to restore order in places where public assemblies can constitute illegal and dangerous activities, such as blockades and occupations, as seen in Ottawa, the Ambassador Bridge, and elsewhere.

  • John Yang:

    The move comes after police cleared the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, towing vehicles and arresting dozens to reopen the crucial link in cross-border commerce for the auto industry.

    But from Ottawa to British Columbia, truckers and others still blocked crossings at major trade routes and closed businesses in city-centers.

  • Kai, protester:

    The government's been misstepping this entire time. They have been enforcing tyrannical measures on people. They have destroyed families. They have destroyed their incomes. People have lost their homes.

  • John Yang:

    What started as a protest against a requirement that Canadian truckers to be vaccinated has spiraled into a larger movement voicing a more general frustration against pandemic-related restrictions.

    It's also been a hotbed for conservative and far-right activism. A recent poll shows the demonstrations are a vocal minority in Canada, with almost two thirds of those surveyed saying they oppose them.

    Shannon Thomas, Resident of Ottawa: It's just I feel like I'm living in a different country, like I'm in the States. It just makes me really sad to see all these people waving Canadian flags, acting like patriots, when, really, it's kind of the most sad and embarrassing thing I have ever seen.

  • John Yang:

    Today, Ontario's premier announced the province would no longer require proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces beginning in March. He insisted it had nothing to do with the protests.

    Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, Canada: We're moving in this direction because it's safe to do so. Today's announcement is not because of what's happening in Ottawa or Windsor, but despite it.

  • John Yang:

    But the demonstrators' persistence has moved Trudeau to call on sweeping, rarely used powers, which some say could further inflame anti-government sentiments.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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