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Plenty of tickets, charges, but no arrests at Coutts border blockade


As plans to ticket protesters blocking the highway to the Canada-U.S. border to Coutts, Alta. came into effect, RCMP ran into problems when officers attempted to clear the demonstration.

The blockade has been ongoing for more than a week, in solidarity with the trucker protests in Ottawa and other parts of the country.

Lanes have been open in each direction, however traffic was shut down once again about 8 p.m. Tuesday, soon after Premier Jason Kenney announced the province was ending the Restrictions Exemption Program and lifting mask mandates for schools and children age 12 and under.

Rules for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues are also being lifted, however general masking rules will remain in effect until March 1.

The original blockade was immediately north of the border crossing at Coutts. A secondary protest site developed at the intersection of Highway 501 and Highway 4, near Milk River, about 15 kilometres north of Coutts.

RCMP are asking protesters at the Highway 501 site to move to an area north of Milk River, off the highway to allow traffic to flow, otherwise face enforcement, said Supt. Roberta McKale.

"Really it's going to be up to them," she told reporters. "Up until this point it's been us asking them and this afternoon we don't have an option, we're going to have to use our enforcement options to have that happen."

Safety is the top priority, she added.

"This illegal protest has people that are up on the highway and anyone that is coming through could end up hurting one of the protesters if they are standing out in the road," she said.

"Our concern is obviously for the people that are here and the users of the road."

Enforcement will be done in "stages" said McKale, starting with "information."

"We want people to leave on their own. A lot of these tractor-trailers are difficult to move," she said.


While RCMP were able to speak with protesters Wednesday afternoon, many in the gathering were adamant against leaving the area.

"I’m not ready to take up the sword, but I’m ready to go to jail," said protester Michael Spiers. "I think this is a pivotal point and if we don’t make our stand now we might not have another chance at freedom."

Tuesday’s night and through Wednesday morning, dozens of semis bound for the U.S. were stopped alongside the highway heading to the border as a result of the protests closing lanes at Coutts.

Tractor trailer driver Darcy Ginger spent more than 12 hours waiting to get through the blockade en route to the U.S. and said his patience with the protest was wearing thin.

"It's a gong show. A bunch of morons is what I figure," he said.

"Keep one lane open, if they want to do their little show, let them do it, but keep a lane open."

Protesters have previously vowed not to leave until all health mandates are lifted in Alberta. Shortly after the RCMP press conference, protesters gathered in the centre of the divided highway where an encampment has been erected.

Chants of “We aren’t going anywhere!” echoed through the loudspeakers.

Further RCMP members have arrived in the area, dispatched from detachments in B.C. at Kenney's request.

Tickets are still being issued and charges are being laid, but no arrests have been made.

With files from CTV News Calgary's Kevin Green Top Stories

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