A blockade that paralyzed a United States border crossing for more than two weeks ended Tuesday as trucks and other vehicles with horns blaring rolled out of a southern Alberta town.
Protesters had been restricting access to the busy crossing near Coutts since Jan. 29 to rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers and broader pandemic health restrictions.
Canada Border Services Agency said operations have now resumed at the Alberta-U.S. crossing.
The exodus of commercial and personal vehicles came one day after RCMP arrested 13 people and seized a cache of firearms and ammunition.
Mounties said an early-morning raid Monday uncovered 13 long guns, handguns, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and body armour. Two additional weapons were seized later in the day.
RCMP also said a semi truck and farm tractor attempted to ram a police cruiser on Sunday.
Premier Jason Kenney said Monday the potential for escalating violence was disturbing and should serve as a wake-up call to protesters to go home immediately.
“Yesterday’s strong enforcement action sent a clear message,” Kenney said on social media Tuesday.
“Glad to see that almost all protesters at the Coutts border crossing and nearby checkpoints have now gone home. This is great news for the hundreds of truckers who cross the border every day.”
A video posted to social media showed RCMP members shaking hands and hugging protesters. In the background, people holding hats or hands to their chests or with arms draped across each other’s shoulders were singing O Canada.
Cpl. Gina Slaney confirmed the scene was from Monday night in Coutts.
The blockade was one of several demonstrations in Canadian cities and border points that have stalled trade, stranded travellers and disrupted lives of area residents, particularly in Ottawa.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said $48 million in trade was lost each day that the Coutts border was closed. That would add up to an estimated $816 million, and counting, because of the illegal blockade.
—The Canadian Press