Several open RCMP investigations into Coutts convoy; protests touch across southern Alberta

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Mounties are investigating several individuals as an illegal protest at the southern Alberta border with the United States at Coutts entered its second week.

Several open RCMP investigations into Coutts convoy; protests touch across southern Alberta
© Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia The roadblock on Highway 4 and 501 outside of Milk River heading towards the Coutts border crossing is ongoing with trucks still getting through one lane on Friday, February 4, 2022.

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The convoy of semis, farm equipment and other vehicles rolled down Highway 4 to the border on Jan. 29. The Coutts convoy, and several demonstrations across Alberta this weekend, are in support of the Freedom Convoy that continues to gridlock downtown Ottawa. The protests, which began in opposition of the federal mandate requiring unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States to get tested for COVID-19 and to quarantine, have expanded to include all COVID-19 health restrictions.

On Saturday, the RCMP revealed it had opened multiple investigations related to protesters in Coutts who are demonstrating in an unlawful manner.

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“We appreciate so many of the individuals taking part in protests in the Coutts area are having their voices heard in a lawful way by being respectful (and) listening to police orders,” the RCMP wrote in a Twitter post.

“We are aware not all individuals are following the law (and) have several open investigations underway.”

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Two separate roadblocks are ongoing in the area, one alongside the village of Coutts at the border and another about 15 kilometres up Highway 4 near Milk River. Single lanes on both sides of the highway remain open at both blockades, but traffic is flowing slowly due to the disruption and Mounties urge travellers to avoid the area.

Several open RCMP investigations into Coutts convoy; protests touch across southern Alberta
© Provided by Calgary Herald

Chad Williamson, the lawyer representing the protesters, said the lanes were opened as a “good faith gesture” in anticipation of policy changes suggested by Alberta’s UCP government earlier in the week.

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney said the province would move to lift restrictions earlier than planned, beginning with the Restrictions Exemption Program, a decision that has been criticized by Opposition MLAs and health experts. An announcement on the plan is expected Monday.

“Demonstrators remain steadfast and will not leave until a proper and satisfactory resolution is reached, and will be closely monitoring the position of the government and law enforcement,” Williamson said in a statement to Postmedia.

“Demonstrators are optimistic, but their optimism is guarded at this juncture.”

Some protesters have said they’re prepared to stay for months,  until both provincial and federal mandates are lifted.

Convoy snarls Stoney Trail traffic

On Saturday, similar protest convoys snarled traffic across the province, with slow-moving vehicles jamming roads in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge.


Video: Trucker protest spokesperson says he has ‘very reliable information’ that nobody associated with the protest has been arrested (Global News)

In Calgary, around 50 protesters hit Stoney Trail around noon. In a joint statement with the City of Calgary, police said the convoy stuck to its planned route along Stoney Trail. There were traffic slowdowns as a result but no blockades.

The protest was organized by Diane Inkin, a member of Canada Unity, an online forum affiliated with the truck convoys at the Coutts border crossing and in Ottawa.

“We are here, we want no mandates,” Inkin said before the convoy began. “This does not end until the mandates are gone.”

Police also reported around 1,500 people gathered at Central Memorial Park in downtown Calgary in the afternoon. The protests downtown have been held every weekend for months. Demonstrators also took to the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre.

On Friday, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees officials said protesters have been taunting and bullying staff entering and exiting the Sheldon Chumir Centre and delaying ambulances.  AHS said there was increased security presence at the facility on Saturday, with no reported incidents of altercations or ambulance delays.

More convoys were planned for Airdrie, Cochrane and Okotoks on Sunday. Roughly 500 people were present at the Okotoks demonstration around 1 p.m. on Sunday with minimal police presence reported, and around 50 people were spotted at an Airdrie demonstration.

🚨Community Alert – SUN, FEB 6 🚨

Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks#Freedom2Kill rallies are planned for your areas today. These crowds are volatile and disruptive. Plan to avoid if possible.

Airdrie: 1-3 pm, Co-op @ Yankee Valley Blvd

Cochrane: 2-3 pm, Centennial Plaza

1/2 pic.twitter.com/KLKOU7a2Iz

— 🟩 Central Alberta Against Racism 🟩 (@ActionCentralAB) February 6, 2022

Calgary MP expresses support

In comments on the social networking website LinkedIn on Saturday, Calgary-Centre Conservative MP Greg McLean said he spent some time in Ottawa with the “people the Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) describes as undesirables,” and expressed his support for the protesters.

“Honestly, without the trucks lining the street and honking, it would be a winter carnaval (sic) kind of day,” he said.

“Nevertheless, this can’t go on forever. I suggest this includes the PM backing down from his coercive vaccine mandate on truckers. (And then working with the U.S. on removing their similar follow-on mandate).”

He walked back some of those statements in a tweet on Sunday.

“I did not intend to minimize the gravity of the situation by comparing aspects of it to a winter carnival — this is a very serious matter,” he said.

I support law and order. These illegal blockades must end now. I did not intend to minimize the gravity of the situation by comparing aspects of it to a winter carnival – this is a very serious matter. The Govt of Canada must show leadership & provide clear path moving forward.

— Greg McLean (@GregMcLeanYYC) February 6, 2022

Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP George Chahal weighed in on the protests Friday, criticizing the Alberta government’s plans to lift restrictions. He said the UCP’s plans are against the recommendations of public health officials and the federal government plans to keep its border vaccine mandate in place.

“We will not pander to protesters who have unlawfully demonstrated, harassed Canadians, impacted front-line services, and impeded the flow of goods,” he said in a statement released on Twitter.

“We will take guidance from public health officials while working with the American government to co-ordinate policy for the mutual benefit of both countries and our respective citizens.”

Statement on the Coutts protest: pic.twitter.com/4AErzYlnU2

— George Chahal (@ChahalGeorge) February 5, 2022

— With files from Brittany Gervais

mrodriguez@postmedia.com

Twitter:  @michaelrdrguez

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