The head of a trucking association says sweeping powers invoked by the federal government risk dropping the hammer on drivers and companies that have no direct role in blockades.
The Emergencies Act triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday authorizes financial institutions to freeze protesters’ bank accounts and cancel vehicle insurance coverage without a court order.
Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, said he condemns the demonstrations but worries rogue drivers who defy head-office directives to avoid the blockades could jeopardize the operations of entire companies.
Because insurance policies encompass whole fleets rather than individual drivers, he says thousands of truckers employed by a single carrier could be punished by the choices of a few.
Millian also says authorities must be sure they don’t penalize truckers who happen to be near a blockade but are not participants.
For more than two weeks, protesters have camped out below Parliament Hill and throttled border crossings from Alberta to the Ontario’s Ambassador Bridge, cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in trade.
Trudeau on Monday announced the measures to bring to an end what he says are illegal blockades.
The Emergencies Act grants police and financial instructions extraordinary powers to stop public assemblies that “breach the peace” in established no-go zones, force towing companies to remove vehicles that are blocking roads, and require banks to suspend or freeze accounts suspected of supporting the blockades, including those belonging to companies whose trucks are part of the convoy.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2022.