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A counterprotester films on their phone as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Ottawa on Feb. 11.PATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said he welcomed new measures from the provincial government that will impose stiff fines and penalties on protesters who show no sign of leaving downtown Ottawa, but said his force still needs more resources to end the demonstration.

For the past two weeks, protesters calling for an end to pandemic measures have infiltrated downtown Ottawa, with trucks blocking major intersections and people camped out. The disruption has forced businesses to close and many people do not feel safe.

“New powers are new powers. Without new resources we can’t expand and use those powers in the way that they were designed,” Chief Sloly said at a police board meeting Friday.

He said the new measures will help, and officers will enforce them to the extent their current resources allow, but they won’t be used to the fullest extent until they receive more officers.

“The more resources we get, the more we can do,” he said.

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Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario on Friday to deal with protests in Ottawa and with the border blockade, making it illegal to block borders and highways and imposing $100,000 fines and prison terms for those who break the law. Mr. Ford called the situation in Ottawa a “siege” and “illegal occupation.”

The City of Ottawa also filed a legal injunction Friday in response to actions of protesters. The first hearing date has not yet been set.

Ottawa city councillor Catherine Kitts said on Twitter that Mr. Ford’s message was welcome but it came “not a moment too soon.” She thanked him for “realizing Ottawa is located in Ontario.”

Earlier this week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mr. Ford asking for an additional 1,800 officers. Chief Sloly would not say Friday how many additional officers have been provided.

But Mr. Trudeau said he didn’t believe that the Ottawa Police Service has been overwhelmed by the two-week blockade of downtown and he said reviews by the OPP and RCMP confirm that the city has the reinforcements it needs.

“I don’t accept the contention that the City of Ottawa has exhausted its tools and its resources,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference on Friday. “What is needed is being provided to be able to move through this in a peaceful responsible way.”

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Councillor Diane Deans, and chair of the police board, said she thought Mr. Trudeau’s comments were “a little unfair.” If Mr. Trudeau believes the Ottawa Police Service has enough, she said, he “should point to how that is, in fact, the case.”

“I think there’s a lot of people that think the federal government has been late to recognizing this is a national crisis,” she said.

Mr. Trudeau told protesters that their frustration and message has been heard but it’s time to go home. “It’s time to bring your kids home from this protest. It is now an illegal protest and the consequences on them and on their families will be significant if they choose to continue with this illegal activity,” he said.

He said Ottawa police have received backup officers from the OPP and RCMP and they have the responsibility and jurisdiction to enforce the law in the city. “We need to make sure that our laws are followed in this country and our laws will be enforced. That’s the role of the Ottawa police force,” he said.

Mr. Watson thanked federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Twitter Friday for supplying an increase in resources. He also thanked Mr. Ford for declaring a state of emergency in the province, adding it will help “put an end to the disruptions in essential services across our province and to the harassment being experienced by Ottawa residents.”

Ottawa police and residents are bracing for another influx of protesters for a third straight weekend. Chief Sloly said his force expects the total number of trucks and demonstrators should be comparable to the previous weekend. Last weekend, thousands of demonstrators descended on the downtown core. Ottawa police are also expecting a counterprotest.

Chief Sloly also raised other planned demonstrations, such as in Windsor and Sarnia, Ont., and in the Greater Toronto Area and other locations.

“We’re tracking that in real time with the intelligence operations across the province and across country,” he said.

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Toronto is boosting its visible police presence this weekend, including by putting plain-clothes officers back into uniform, and is ready to throw a cordon around a large part of the downtown as it seeks to prevent protesters from using their vehicles to staying long, as they have in Ottawa and Windsor.

Toronto saw protests last weekend, which were relatively small, although some of those involved did block Avenue Road, a major downtown artery, for hours.

“We are not going to allow encampments,” police Chief James Ramer told a briefing Friday. “We have assets in place to make sure if people are, if vehicles are engaged and they’re not moving, we’re going to move them out of the way.”

In Winnipeg, extra police officers will be on duty as the service keeps tabs on planned protests. Protesters took root in the city last week, disrupting traffic and blocking the main access to the legislature. The city is preparing for counterprotests this weekend.

Edmonton Police Service is also preparing for protesters to converge on the legislature grounds Saturday, repeating last weekend’s demonstration. Various convoys, EPS warned, may snarl traffic on the city’s key thoroughfares and clog the downtown core. Calgary Police Service said it will also be monitoring protests, with a focus on maintaining safety for the public and officers.

With reports from Marieke Walsh, Oliver Moore, Carrie Tait and The Canadian Press.

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