Protest blockades are illegal in Nova Scotia | City | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Without police enforcement, Nova Scotia's laws against trucker protest blockades are as useful as a flat tire.

Protest blockades are illegal in Nova Scotia

Police are aware of a trucker convoy in the works for Saturday, but it remains to be seen if they will enforce the laws better than they did last weekend.

Last Sunday, Nova Scotia saw its very own version of the Freedom Convoy to Ottawa, as those who are against continuing vaccine mandates, isolation requirements and gathering limits gathered to air their displeasure—loudly.

According to Halifax Regional Police, over 1000 vehicles made their way through the downtown core (but there are no numbers on how many were actually truckers). Although some got lost along the way, police say the “central group of vehicles traveled from Marginal Road to the Chain Lake Drive area. At one point, the convoy of vehicles spanned several kilometers of roadway.”

Two days before that, in preparation for the convoy, the province announced a new law, titled the Road Blockade Ban. It prohibits “all persons are prohibited from stopping, parking, or operating a vehicle or putting any item in such a manner as to create or contribute to a partial or complete blockade of the normal flow of vehicle traffic on a road, street or highway in the Province.”

The provincial Emergency Management Office, which enacted the new Road Blockade Ban as well as the January 28 Highway Blockade Ban, says “police agencies are responsible for enforcing these directives.” A spokesperson for the EMO couldn’t confirm to The Coast whether any public health enforcement officers were monitoring the situation last weekend.

Halifax Regional Police reports that only two people were ticketed on the weekend. One was the driver of a vehicle in the convoy, who was issued tickets for ”unsafe turning of a vehicle to proceed in the opposite direction” and for failing to stop at a red light. The second was a counter-protester who blocked the roadway as a pedestrian and failed “to yield to oncoming traffic,” according to police.

HRP didn’t answer The Coast’s questions about why no tickets were issued in relation to the Road Blockade Ban, but says “officers used a combination of education, engagement and enforcement to safely move the convoy of vehicles along their route.” According to CTV News, a police car even led the convoy. Y’know, for safety.

It’s a pretty big contrast to other protests that have happened since the pandemic began, including last spring's Free Palestine car protest, where numerous attendees say they were unjustly ticketed for gathering in their vehicles. At that event, 17 tickets were issued, out of approximately 200 vehicles in attendance.

This Saturday, February 12, there’s another anti-mandate protest planned in Nova Scotia. The province’s EMO tells The Coast it’s aware of this and that “a blockade could have severe consequences for public safety to emergency and essential services, as well as movement of goods and supplies. People have a right to protest, but we cannot ignore the ongoing threats being made to block or disrupt traffic on our highways, roads or streets.”

But like last time, the real onus is on the police. HRP spokesperson John MacLeod tells The Coast via email that “in relation to this weekend, we are aware of the information circulating on social media.”

“We continue to gather information and monitor the situation closely, however, we do not speak to the specifics of our deployment planning,” MacLeod says. “It is important that everyone planning such activities make themselves aware of the current requirements and follow the rules.”

Victoria Walton

Victoria was a full-time reporter with The Coast from April 2020 until mid-2022, when the CBC lured her away. During her Coast tenure, she covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College...
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