Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole says that as prime minister, he would introduce legislation to designate ports and major railways, highways and bridges as critical national infrastructure and to make it a criminal offence to block them, even without a court injunction.
He also says he would declare a general policy that police should clear blockades quickly so they don’t grow to the point where “clearing them risks violence.”
“Peacefully protesting is a key type of speech that our government must protect,” said the statement from the O’Toole campaign, released Thursday morning. “Intimidation and physically preventing people from going about their lives is different. It is a form of common law assault and should, in the appropriate situations, be treated as such.”
The detailed plan from O’Toole comes as his main rival Peter MacKay amended his own stance on the blockades that have recently shut down multiple Canadian rail lines. On Thursday night MacKay deleted his original tweet supporting counter-protesters near Edmonton who took down a rail blockade. The tweet, which said MacKay was “glad to see a couple Albertans with a pickup truck can do more for our economy in an afternoon than Justin Trudeau could do in four years,” had been criticized for supporting vigilante actions.