Kenney calls trucker blockade at U.S. border ‘unlawful,’ RCMP taking action

RCMP are moving in on a blockade of truckers and others protesting COVID-19 measures at Alberta’s southern border crossing.

Some vehicles, including trucks, were seen leaving the blockade on Tuesday afternoon amid a growing presence of RCMP officers on foot, while footage from the scene also shows other vehicles circumventing a police barricade to join the border blockade.

“What may have begun as a peaceful assembly quickly turned into an unlawful blockade,” Alberta RCMP wrote in a statement.

“While the Alberta RCMP has been in a position to conduct enforcement, we have been engaged with protesters at the Coutts border crossing in an effort to find a peaceful and safe resolution for all involved. We thought we had a path to resolution, the protesters eventually chose not to comply.”

During a Tuesday news conference, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the border blockade “unlawful” and urged the protesters to make their voices heard in a peaceful manner.

“We have now received reports of RCMP officers being swarmed,” he said. “That’s not peaceful. For our situation here in Alberta, once again I would plead for calm and ask folks whose tempers may be running high to channel that frustration into peaceful and lawful protest.”

Kenney urged the protesters to understand that his COVID-19 restrictions were only implemented as a “last and limited resort” to avoid overwhelming the province’s health-care system.

“To the folks who are so frustrated, I share the frustration,” he said. “Please understand that we have tried to take a minimal approach to restrictions, but a necessary one to avoid even more damaging cancellations to surgeries.” 

RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters confirmed to The Canadian Press that more vehicles had joined the blockade as police worked to remove it.

“We (began) to remove some vehicles from the protest area,” he said. “A few left. I didn’t get an exact count of how many went out. And then we received notification that additional protesters were arriving on the scene and came around our secured area,” said RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters.

“I don’t know how many additional vehicles or implements attended there.”

Coutts Mayor Jim Willett told CTV News Channel said the blockade is losing support in the community.

“It just boggles my mind that it has come to this and that people who are protesting for freedom and the right to move about are taking that away from the rest of us,” he said. 

“They’re impacting on a lot of people who might have been supporters at one time and are not now.”

Commercial trucks, vehicles and camper vans have been blocking the highway at the U.S.-Canada border in Coutts, Alta. since Saturday to protest COVID-19 restrictions. The blockade mirrors similar protests countrywide and in Ottawa over the past week.

“As of this morning, further action is being taken by the Alberta RCMP as this blockade continues to impede the ability for emergency agencies to provide full services to area residents,” the RCMP said in a statement Tuesday.

“It has also negatively impacted the flow of goods and services, and impedes the public’s freedom of movement.”

In an earlier interview, Willett told CTV News Channel that he wants the vehicles blocking the border crossing to “get out of the way” so that traffic can resume and the residents of the small community can get on with their lives.

“I had no gripe with the protests until it became a blockade,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t approve.”

The blockade had appeared smaller on Tuesday than it had been over the weekend, but The Canadian Press previously reported that vehicle headlights were as far as the eye could see, despite the -20 degree Celsius weather.

Some trucks were empty as of Tuesday morning, but many were adorned with upside-down Canadian flags and signs indicating: “True North Strong Proud and Free,” “Mandate Freedom or Liberation is Coming,” and “No Fear, Freedom Rules.”


The blockade has left dozens of cross-border truckers and travellers stranded, with few options of where to go.

Garnet Lang, a trucker bringing oil rig materials from Texas into Alberta, told CTVNews.ca that he’s been stuck on the U.S. side of the border since Sunday and is unable to take an alternate route because he would need additional permits to do so.

“I’m all for if you want to protest, but they’ve taken this way, way too far,” he said in a phone interview. “They’ve got a four-lane highway and one of the major crossings into the U.S. blocked.”

“It’s ridiculous. It’s absolute insanity. Meanwhile, my right to work, my right to return to my own country, all my rights are being infringed on because I’m being – for lack of anything better to call it — held hostage at the border.”

Lang said on Tuesday that there are around 50 trucks stuck in Sweet Grass, Mont. as they wait for the situation on the Canadian side of the border is resolved.

“I’ve been on the road going on 50 years … and I have never seen anything like this and I’ve been through a few trucker strikes in the States and in Canada,” he said.

Lovepreet Singh, a trucker with a full load of produce for Canadians, said that he and several other truckers had to take a detour along icy roads in British Columbia to finish their job.

“That’s not how Canadians behave,” he told The Canadian Press. “There are people (that) have medical issues like blood pressure issues, thyroid issues, asthma.”

Singh said the detour cost him $400 extra in fuel and seven hours of driving.

“We don’t make enough money to survive in these kind of situations,” said Singh.

“It’s even hard for us to pay all the bills and (provide) for our family.”

Cindy Clarke, a Coutts resident and owner of a local pottery studio, told CTV News Channel that the blockade has been frightening.

“You look out the window when you see SWAT cars everywhere or big police trucks go by,” she said. “I went for a walk with my dog and I saw eight police cars and the three helicopters circled around me.”

Clarke said she agrees with many of the truckers’ gripes, but doesn’t feel the protests should be blocking others from their day-to-day lives.

“You have the right to say anything you want to say, but you don’t have the right to do it in my yard,” she said. “They don’t have the right to impede their mandate on to my life.”

Clarke said the blockade has not impacted her business, though she is running low on supplies and isn’t willing to leave her home for a restock.

“I’m not driving through all of this mess for a clay run,” she said.

With files from The Canadian Press