On Feb. 15, the Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced that protesters who erected a blockade of trucks in support of the Freedom Convoy convened in Ottawa at the Coutts border-crossing in southern Alberta have voluntarily left after several days of protest against Canada’s strict COVID-19 measures.
RCMP spokesperson Gina Slaney said the protest had cleared out significantly by 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, allowing traffic to resume across the border in both directions.
Video of the final moments of the blockade has surfaced online showing protesters shaking hands with and hugging RCMP officers who have been monitoring the protest since it began roughly two weeks ago.
Marco Van Huigenbos, one of the protest organizers, told the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that he would have “loved to stay” until more goals of the protest were achieved; however, he felt it was in their best interests to leave peacefully.
“We’re not walking away with everything we came for, but there was definitely some huge wins,” Van Huigenbos told the CBC.
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Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, announced an end to the province’s vaccine passport program dubbed the “Restrictions Exemption Program” on Feb. 8. He denied that the decision to pull the program was made in response to the blockade.
The ending of the blockade comes one day after RCMP officers arrested 13 people and seized a cache of firearms and ammunition reportedly in connection with the blockade.
Mounties said a raid, in the early morning hours on Monday, uncovered 13 long guns, handguns, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and body armour. “RCMP also said a semi truck and farm tractor attempted to ram a police cruiser on Sunday,” Canada’s National Post reported.
A similar blockade ended on Monday at the Windsor-Detroit border on the Ambassador Bridge, which resulted in 46 people being arrested, including 90 charges and 37 vehicles and trucks being seized, Newsweek reported.
“There will be continued police presence in the demonstration area to ensure public safety,” authorities wrote in a new release.
While the blockades at the Canada-U.S. border have subsided, the main protest in Ottawa shows no signs of relenting, even after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in the country’s history in a bid to quash the protests.