June 15th, 2024

Coutts mayor “not impressed” with blockade, RCMP prepared for enforcement


By Lethbridge Herald on February 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard A flag waver greets the convoy of trucks protesting pandemic restriction as it arrives in Coutts Saturday morning. A large contingent of vehicles have parked on the highway blocking access to the village.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Coutts mayor Jim Willett supports the right to protest but the truck convoy blockade at Coutts goes too far for him.

“I’m not impressed with the total blockage,” said Willett.

Later in the day Monday RCMP said the blockade, which started Saturday, was no longer lawful and resources are in place to make arrests and tow away vehicles if they are unable to resolve the conflict.

“I was fine with the protest, that’s one of the freedoms that you have in a free society is the freedom to demonstrate and as long your demonstration doesn’t start damaging peoples’ abilities to work, for society to continue to function, well you can protest all you want.

“But they quickly lost my trust when they did that,” said Willett.

Road travel across the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts has been shut down since Saturday when a protest turned into a full-out blockade.

He said the RCMP managed to have an ambulance go through the blockade to see if emergency services could be provided when needed.

Willett says the blockade is impacting the village volunteer fire department’s ability to deal with emergencies if one arises east of the community.

Willett said the blockade is causing problems for the community.

“I’ve got an older population and we’re not used to seeing a lot of people down this way and then the main entrance to town is where they decided to place their blockade. So if you do want to leave town, you have to go there and be escorted through the blockade and on out to the highway which is actually closed at Milk River,” Willett said.

“It’s intimidating to see all of these big rigs parked on the highway and have to drive by them to get away. We have a back road that you can go through which is passable right now,” he said before a snowstorm hit the area.

He said there’s been no communication between the village and blockade organizers since a call was made to the Coutts office last week informing them of the protest.

“We’ve had no contact with the protest organizers whatsoever. They have not contacted the village, they made one phone call in the middle of last week and talked to the office assistant and she was in the middle of something else and they just said ‘we’re going be down there, we’re not going to block any entrances to the village.’

“That’s the only contact we ever had. Our understanding, and from what the first organizer I saw in line said, they were going to make it a slow roll” running trucks in one lane of the highway to the border. When they got turned away at U.S. customs, protesters planned to make U-turns, cross into Canada and go to Milk River before turning around and going back to the Uw.S. customs.

“That was the original plan; there was no blockades in the original plan,” said Willett.

“The organizers did not have that in their agenda that I’m aware of. However, Saturday afternoon, the wheels fell off the bus” and blocked the first entrance into the village after the scale house, the mayor said.

“For awhile there, all access to the village was cut off. We get a little nervous when you do that, not only for the people in the business but for the fact we provide fire coverage to everybody that’s east of here,” Willett said.

An oversized load road was being used for a short time when the blockade started but Willett believes now that will be blocked as well.

“These folks have a right to lawful protest,” said Cpl. Curtis Peters. “I’ve encouraged them to return to that and, if that takes place, there will be no need for those enforcement actions.”

Peters said about half the number of vehicles that were at the barricade on Sunday, many which were not part of the protest, had left.

Late Monday, RCMP issued a statement saying negotiations for a peaceful resolution had not been successful.

“While we thought we had a path to resolve this, the protesters chose not to comply,” it said. “We will continue to actively resolve the situation.”

The convoy from Lethbridge left the Flying J Diesel Cardlock early Saturday morning.

According to some accounts about the length of the convoy, at one point the head of the convoy was at New Dayton, while the vehicles following were still leaving Lethbridge.

Supporters camped out in the early-morning hours all along Highway 4 from Lethbridge to Coutts as semis, trucks and other vehicles dotted the highway with Canadian flags flowing, waiting to greet or join the convoy.

The convoy arrived in Coutts to a throng of flag-waving supporters lining Highway 4 leading to the border as well as multiple motorists honking their horns in support.

Just north of Coutts, supporters continued to line both sides of the highway and in the median as well with multiple trucks and campers set up.

Back in Lethbridge Saturday afternoon, the support continued as demonstrators lined Henderson Lake on Mayor Magrath, signs and flags in hand, garnering honks of support from passing motorists.

On Saturday night, drivers continued to show their support, cruising city streets and honking their horns with their Canadian flags flowing in the breeze.

Chelle Landry, who travelled from Lethbridge to support the convoy in Coutts, said participants are fighting for the rights of all Canadians.

“(Vaccine mandates) are affecting our livelihoods, our families and that of all Canadians,” said Landry. “It’s just unacceptable for the government to be pushing this on us.”

Landry said she is in this “for the long haul” and will stay until all mandates are lifted, especially as they pertain to mandatory vaccinations in certain workforces.

She spoke to The Canadian Press from inside the Smuggler’s Saloon. Members of the convoy rented out the space, which was filled with dozens of unmasked protesters at various times on Monday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on the weekend that it is up to local authorities to enforce provincial legislation, which allows for additional penalties against protesters blockading highways and other infrastructure.

The law, passed by his United Conservative government last year, protects railways, highways and pipelines from anyone trespassing, interfering with operations and construction, or causing damage.

-with files from Dale Woodard and The Canadian Press

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pursuit diver

The tail is allowed to wag the dog these days and the ‘anarchists’ that want to destroy this country and the ideals that made it great now have free reign.
The PM speaks big words but hides at a group that goes to Ottawa with plans to topple the government, waving the same militant flags as we saw on January 6, 2021 in Washington. Radicals that don’t want freedom, and don’t have any respect for others freedoms, their health, their families or their livelihoods. Groups of hate that we allow to shut down borders!
Our spineless politicians continue to fail to protect the majority of the population and hide out, afraid to deal with the matters to protect us all because they are afraid they will not be re-elected. They love the power but not the tough decisions that have to be made to protect the majority of society!
Send in an army of police, seize all of the equipment that is blocking the highway, arrest and through the anarchists in jail and throw away the keys!
If I were all of those that have lost tens of thousands of dollars in these protests i would be hiring lawyers and launching lawsuits. The GoFundMe has over $9 milion. I wonder how much of that is foreigh money?
The Caterpillar D11 dozer is a great piece of heavy equipment for clearing roads as well!
These anarchists must be shown we do not want them in our country!

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver
SophieR

Though I follow your drift, I find it funny that you use the term ‘anarchist’ when these people occupy the ‘libertarian’ right fringe; and seem to think the PM is responsible for what is a provincial premier & police decision.

That nothing is happening seems to be related to the reticence of The Law to deal with people they are more aligned with. On the other hand, maybe presenting these people as lefties will help them decide to do their job.

Last edited 2 years ago by SophieR
SophieR

I mean, imagine if the blockade at the border were First Peoples, or BLM, or environmentalists (who actually have a point)! Instead of the police spooning the protesters and whispering in their ear, the tear gas and rubber bullets would be flying and the cells would be full. And Kenney wouldn’t be squirming about enacting the critical infrastructure defence act designed for people who don’t vote for him.

pursuit diver

These people are not their for the majority’s freedom, but for their own! In their minds they are the only ones that matter!
Remember what happened when Kenney removed all the restrictions for the Calgary Stampede? Weeks after we saw the beginning of another wave! That is exactly what will happen if we remove the restrictions now, while we are only weeks away from seeing the possibility of reduced restrictions!
These people do not want freedom, they want it their way and screw everyone else!
If they are not dealt with in a manner that will deter the younger crowd they are attracting we are only going to see an increase in these actions by the growing militant groups in this country to further destroy our economy and what is left of our fractured country! It is these fringe groups, small percentages of our population doing it and only a matter of time before you see increased attacks within our own borders at they grow and tear apart of what is left of this country!
When CSIS and the RCMP release what intel they can on these groups it will be interesting to see how many have ties to the US militant groups and it should be interesting to see who has funded them! They wanted attentionm they will get it!
Britain got hit with Omicron earlier than Canada and while they were peaking, we were still spreading rapidly, so you cannot look at those countries and say they have already removed restrictions.
On the other hand, maybe those unvaccinated would move on to the next realm of their spiritual journeys after they got COVID and we would no longer have to worry about them!
They are not the people you want fighting for our freedoms and there are plenty of truck driving jobs in this country they could have be doing unvaccinated if they really wanted to worked! Or is all of this about making getting our PM to give them all payouts as well, since he is so good at blowing our tax dollars? Maybe they want billions poured out to them as well?
There are jobs out there, they just think they are too good to work them! These are not freedom fighters, they are freeloading bums that need to be thrown in jail, all of the equipment seized and their assets seized to pay for all the losses the taxpayer, the consumer, the working truck drivers and businesses that have been impacted have suffered for the militant actions that go far beyond what the Charter allows for right to demonstrate.
Sadly, the lawyers will once again win big on this one! Most of these cowards will not even show their faces on camera! Gangsters! Mobsters! Bullies! They are not much different than the addicts we see on our streets in this city!

SophieR

Agreed.

Freeloader is how they understand freedom – good one.

Citi Zen

The truckers will be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada; following that, they will no longer be able to enter the U. S. Problem solved…..