The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Monday that they arrested 13 people and seized a cache of weapons and body armor from the "Freedom Convoy" protest blocking the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Coutts, Alberta. The RCMP said its weeklong investigation found that the 11 people arrested in the first sweep had "a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade." Two more people were arrested traveling to join the protest, one with two weapons in his car and the other after coming close to ramming one of the Mounties, police said.
One of the protest organizers, Marco Van Huigenbos, said after the arrests that "our objective was to be here peacefully" but "we were infiltrated by an extreme element." He said that "to keep that message going, we want to peacefully leave Coutts and return to our families," starting Tuesday morning.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told reporters on Monday that the seizure of guns and those who would wield them will allow the RCMP and provincial authorities to peacefully reopen the border crossing. "Now that the RCMP has successfully resolved this potential threat, they will proceed, I'm informed, with enforcement against others who are involved in the blockade."
Kenny and the premiers of Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan said they did not require the federal government's emergency powers invoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. But Doug Ford, the Conservative premier of Ontario, supported the unprecedented emergency declaration. Police cleared the Ambassador Bridge border blockade in Windsor, Ontario, on Sunday, but the nation's capital, Ottawa, is still in a tense standoff with protesters who have used big-rig trucks to clog up the financial district and residential neighborhoods for more than two weeks.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday that Trudeau's government may very narrowly use its emergency powers to freeze the bank accounts and void the vehicle insurance of anyone involved in unlawful demonstrations. Tamara Lich, a leader of the Ottawa occupation, dismissed Trudeau's move. "There are no threats that will frighten us," she told The Associated Press. "We will hold the line."