Ottawa police discontinue provincial border checkpoints after long lines and frustration
OTTAWA, Ontario, April 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Mere days after implementing provincial border checkpoints as part of new COVID rules — with long lines, public frustration, and backlash from the mayor — police in Canada’s capital city now say they will stop the checks.
Police in Ottawa, Ontario, announced they will cease 24-hour checkpoints between it and its neighbouring city of Gatineau, Quebec, instead only doing occasional stoppages at the border.
“Traffic was allowed to go, without any congestion, allowed to go through during morning rush hour,” Ottawa police Const. Amy Gagnon said in a CTV report.
Shortly after being applied, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he did not think the “system of stopping people at the border, which is impractical and unnecessary, is going to last the rest of this week.”
“It’s not working and it’s causing a lot of grief and costing a lot of money,” said Watson in a CTV report.
Ottawa Police said in a news release that from last Tuesday onwards, it will rotate its personnel between the five bridges which connect Ottawa and Gatineau. There will no longer be a “a 24/7 presence at interprovincial crossings (bridges and ferries).”
“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travelers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time,” Ottawa police stated.
At one point it was reported that line-ups were 13 kilometres long at some sections of the Ottawa/ Gatineau border, which normally sees around 185,000 vehicles cross each day.
The border bridge crossings are heavily used by federal politicians, some of whom go back and forth multiple times each day.
Last year, Canada’s Prime Minister was heavily criticized for breaking provincial COVID rules after going to his Rideau cottage located in Quebec for Easter.
Last weekend, members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) tactical command unit were seen placing armed checkpoints at the Manitoba-Ontario border, which are still in effect.
The new checkpoints were the result of new coronavirus orders enacted by Ontario Premier Doug Ford last Friday. The enhanced “stay at home orders” mean that provincial authorities are now screening those coming into the province from Manitoba and Quebec.
Only “essential travelers” are to be allowed through the borders. Truckers carrying goods, and those with Ontario license plates, are let through without being stopped. Those who do not comply with the rules could face fines of up to $750.
Lawyer Jay Cameron with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) told LifeSiteNews that the establishment of provincial border checkpoints is “antithetical to the purpose and principles of a free society. It is another frightening signpost in Canada’s rush to tyranny.”
“No Canadian is required to give police information at health checkpoints, and no police service in Canada should become the antagonist of its fellow citizens and enforce this outrageous order,” Cameron said.