Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson proposed confiscating and selling vehicles and other assets taken from Freedom Convoy protesters to cover the cost of policing and expelling the protest.

Watson argued Monday that the assets of protesters should be seized to “recoup some of the costs” of the Freedom Convoy, which took over parts of downtown Ottawa in late January in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions. Watson said in part:

You (protesters) have disrupted our city, you’ve hurt our small business community, and this is costing a small fortune for the taxpayers of Ottawa. That’s one of the reasons why under the Emergencies Act, I’ve asked our solicitor and our city manager: How can we keep the tow trucks and the campers and the vans and everything else that we’ve confiscated, and sell those pieces of equipment to help recoup some of the costs that our taxpayers are absorbing? So that’s one of the provisions of the Emergencies Act, and we have been a beneficiary of the Emergencies Act. As they debated on the Hill, I asked the members of Parliament to consider [how] it’s helped us a lot on things like confiscating vehicles, not having to swear in peace officers through the RCMP, and so many other things that have been very helpful over the course of this period.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act last week as a “last resort” to handle the weeks-long protest. The emergency powers allowed the federal government to expand police powers and task financial institutions with freezing the assets of individuals involved in the “illegal blockades,” Trudeau said.

On Friday, federal, provincial, and local law enforcement cracked down on the Freedom Convoy protest, moving methodically through the protest area on Parliament Hill pushing out protesters and towing away vehicles.

Canada’s Parliament voted 185-151 to expand Trudeau’s emergency powers for 30 days on Monday. The prime minister claimed to reporters before the vote that “this state of emergency is not over. There continue to be real concerns about the coming days.”

 In his comments last week announcing the Emergencies Act declaration, Trudeau said that the measures would be “time-limited” and “geographically-targeted.” 

“After discussing with cabinet and caucus, after consultation with premiers from all provinces and territories, the federal government has invoked the emergencies act to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations,” Trudeau announced in a press conference. “I want to be very clear, the scope of these measures will be time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address. The emergencies act will be used to strengthen and support law enforcement agencies at all levels across the country.”

The Emergencies Act powers will “strengthen” law enforcement’s ability to fine and imprison protesters, according to the prime minister. The act will be enforced most heavily in areas of “critical infrastructure” such as airports and border crossings. Trudeau said that the act also ensures “essential services” such as towing away trucks used to blockade roads and highways.

“In addition, financial institutions will be authorized and directed to render essential services to help address the situation including by regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund or support illegal blockades,” Trudeau added.

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