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Ontario introduces measures to prevent border blockades

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones stands at a podium between two flags.
Sylvia Jones
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Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones introduces measures to protect international border crossings from illegal blockades.

The government of Ontario has introduced legislation that would prevent illegal blockades at border crossings. The proposed law comes in the wake of the week-long blockade that halted traffic at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, said the recent blockade at the Ambassador Bridge has hurt people on both sides of the border, when protestors disrupted traffic and prevented goods to cross.

Jones said usually about $17 million in trade goods crosses that bridge every hour.

"When the bridge was blocked, supply chains were seriously disrupted, manufacturing facilities closed and employees sent home because parts were not arriving on time," she said. "Our auto sector took huge losses, as did agriculture and many other industries.”

The proposed law would be called the ‘Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act" and would only apply to international border crossings, such as airports and bridge corridors. It would give police the power to impose roadside suspensions of drivers licenses and vehicle permits. They could also seize license plates if a vehicle is used in an illegal blockade.

Jones said Ontario will spend nearly $77 millions to train police officers, improve the operational strength of the provincial police and buy equipment such as tow trucks. She added that the new legislation would have no impact on the right to peaceful, lawful protests in other parts of Ontario.

But the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the proposed legislation is too broad and police might use the powers to shut down protests that really aren’t causing the types of disruptions seen in Ottawa and at the Ambassdor Bridge.