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'This blockade must end': Alberta justice minister condemns highway protest near U.S. border


Alberta's acting minister of justice and solicitor general is calling for an end of the highway blockades near Coutts citing safety concerns.

"While we respect lawful protests as a democratic right and one that we strongly defend, when they become unsafe or unlawful, law enforcement has the discretion to take any and all action as they deem appropriate," said Sonya Savage in a statement released Monday evening.

"The blockade of the Coutts border crossing violates Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, causes significant inconveniences for lawful motorists, and could dangerously impede movement of emergency service vehicles.

"This blockade must end."

As of 2:30 p.m. traffic was flowing slowly through the Coutts border crossing. 

Alberta RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters says a path has been cleared but movement remains "super restrictive'' at the U.S. border and the situation remains fluid.Savage says the province has "ensured that law enforcement has all the tools necessary to ensure public safety and access to critical infrastructure remains unimpeded in Alberta" and for good reason.

"Blockades that threaten critical infrastructure can result in significant public safety, social, economic and environmental consequences. On behalf of all Albertans, we encourage everyone involved in the blockade to respect the law and comply with any law enforcement action."

RCMP confirm the blockade are illegal and officers handed out 31 tickets for traffic infractions between Jan. 29 and Feb. 6.

A convoy of vehicles first made its way to a location on Highway 4, near the Coutts border crossing, almost two weeks ago causing lengthy but sporadic traffic disruptions.

The anti-mandate protest was held in stereo with the trucker convoy to Ottawa that called for an end on restrictions.

Protesters told CTV News on Monday that they would remain in place until all restrictions were lifted. Premier Jason Kenney is expected to announce the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions in Alberta this week.

- With files from Tyson Fedor and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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