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Alberta border arrests speak to larger Canadian concern: federal safety minister

OTTAWA -

Canada's safety minister says a group with allegedly violent motives that was arrested at a border blockade in southern Alberta speaks to broader concerns.

Police earlier this week charged 13 people from the Coutts protest with possession of weapons and mischief to property, including four who face counts of conspiracy to murder RCMP officers.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says some people involved in the Coutts convoy have strong ties to a far-right extremist organization led out of Ottawa, but he's not naming it.

He says the group is organized, agile, knowledgeable and driven by extremist ideology contrary to Canada's democratic values.

Mendicino says the same rhetoric used by supporters in Coutts is being heard elsewhere and undermines public confidence in law enforcement and government, which could lead to unlawful demonstrations beyond public protests.

The Coutts blockade, which broke up on Tuesday, was one of several demonstrations in Canadian cities and border points against vaccine mandates and broader COVID-19 restrictions that stalled trade, stranded travellers, and disrupted lives of area residents.

“The pattern that we're seeing here is in the rhetoric that is being used not only in Coutts, not only in Ottawa, but right across the country,” Mendicino said Wednesday.

“That unified and focused message is one of concern and ... does shed light on the ideological motivations of those who are prepared to move beyond just demonstrations and crossing into different conduct, which would be illegal.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2022


 

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