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Doug Ford, premier of Ontario

Ontario introduces legislation increasing police enforcement tools in wake of convoy disruption

Monday, March 21, 2022 @ 1:48 PM | By Amanda Jerome

On March 21, the government of Ontario introduced new legislation that, if passed, would help “protect international border crossings from unlawful disruptions that hurt people and businesses.”

According to a government release, the Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act, 2022 would “enable law enforcement to better protect jobs that rely on international trade and shield the economy from future disruptions like the recent illegal blockade of Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge, which led to factory closures, shift reductions and halted billions of dollars worth of trade.”

The proposed legislation would also “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” and 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.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

“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 in a statement.

“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,” he added.

Solicitor general Sylvia Jones said the government is “focused on public safety and ensuring that people and goods can move across our international borders unimpeded.”

“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,” she added in a statement.

According to the release, the provincial 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.”

The measures 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.”

“We are taking swift action to provide police and prosecutors with new tools to keep people safe and protect the vital economic lifelines that drive the prosperity of our communities,” said Attorney General Doug Downey in a statement.

Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation, noted that “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of essential goods for people and businesses pass across our international borders every day.”

“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,” she added in a statement.

The release noted that Ontario “declared a provincial emergency” on Feb. 11 “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.”

“The proposed legislation would better equip the province to respond to future economic and social disruptions to border infrastructure that is critical to international trade, without declaring a state of emergency,” the release explained.

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