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Alberta premier ‘pleased’ Coutts border protesters plan to leave area

More than two weeks after the land border in Coutts was blocked by protesters speaking out against COVID-19 mandates, the premier says demonstrators are set to leave the area.

In a tweet Monday, Jason Kenney said he was “pleased to hear reports” that the people participating in the blockade “intend to leave the area and return home tomorrow morning.”

It’s unclear exactly when protesters plan to pack up but there have been indications they may move to another location.

The update came after the federal government announced it was invoking the Emergencies Act to deal with ongoing border blockades across the country.

It also came after province announced earlier in the day that it planned to move in to remove the protest.

RCMP announced it had made several arrests and seized a number of weapons including a cache of firearms.

“To those still engaged in the blockade: you’ve made your point,” Kenney said prior to the Emergencies Act announcement, and after more than a dozen people were arrested. “It’s time to go home. There are many ways to speak your minds peacefully & lawfully. But your continued violation of the rights of your fellow Albertans will not be tolerated.”

The blockade in Coutts was in solidarity with other protests taking place across Canada, including in Ottawa, where demonstrators have been rallying since the end of January.

The Emergencies Act, which is being invoked for the first time in Canadian history, gives the federal government the power to ban public gatherings in specific areas, take control of public services it deems necessary to deal with the situation, and issue fines and jail time to those who breach public orders.

“We are empowering law enforcement. I think that’s what Canadians want to see,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday afternoon.

“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety. Critical supply chains have been disrupted. This is hurting workers who rely on these jobs to feed their families,” he added.

The Emergencies Act will be in place temporarily, and will be “geographically targeted.” The powers afforded by the act are in effect, but the government has to present its plan and receive confirmation from the House of Commons and the Senate within seven sitting days.

If approved, the measures will remain in effect for 30 days.

“If you’re still participating, it’s time to go home,” Trudeau told protesters, saying the act was a last resort.

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