The Ontario government is introducing new measures to protect international border crossings from unlawful disruptions such as February’s blockade of Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge and other border crossing points by anti-vaccination truckers and their allies.
“Ontario is a strong, reliable trading partner, and we are signalling to the world that we continue to be open for business,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We will do everything in our power to protect our workers, job creators and international trade relationships from any future attempts to block our borders.”
The border crossing blockades had led to factory closures, shift reductions and halted billions of dollars worth of trade.
The Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act, 2022 would, if passed, better enable the province to respond immediately to future disruptions to international border crossings such as bridges and airports when those disruptions interfere with public safety, the economy and international trade.
The proposed legislation would provide police officers with additional enforcement tools to impose roadside suspension of drivers’ licences and vehicle permits, seize licence plates when a vehicle is used in an illegal blockade and remove and store objects making up an illegal blockade.
The government is also investing nearly $96 million in new measures and tools to support province-wide responses during unlawful demonstrations and illegal blockades that impede international borders and airports. These include:
- Enhanced training through the Ontario Police College for all law enforcement services to support safe and effective public order policing
- Improvements to the operational strength of the Ontario Provincial Police in the areas of emergency management and investigations and intelligence, including the establishment of a permanent Emergency Response Team, and
- Purchasing equipment such as heavy tow trucks that are necessary to keep borders open.
“Our government is focused on public safety and ensuring that people and goods can move across our international borders unimpeded,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “That’s why we are taking the steps necessary to protect international border crossings, which are critical to the public. These measures are narrow in scope and will not impact the right to peaceful, lawful and temporary protests.”
“Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of essential goods for people and businesses pass across our international borders every day,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Taking steps to ensure our border crossings can continue to operate regularly in the event of disruptions like those experienced earlier this year is vital to the ongoing safety and security of the people of Ontario and our economy.”
Ontario had to declare a provincial emergency February 11, 2022, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in response to impacts of the “Freedom Convoy” protests and unlawful blockades to provide police with temporary powers needed to address the situations.