Threatening to cancel truckers' insurance coverage won't help end the ongoing protest in Ottawa set to enter its third weekend, according to one expert.
When Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said last week that policing "might not be the solution" to end the demonstration, questions were raised about other potential ideas.
Those ideas included the potential suspension or removal of insurance coverage for vehicles being used in the demonstration, which might speed up the dispersal of trucks parked throughout the city.
That's neither a wise nor a likely solution, according to Queen's University law professor Erik Knutsen.
"I think as a government it would be bonkers," said Knutsen. "If you yank insurance coverage and the person that did something, that hurt somebody, in one of these gatherings has no assets, it doesn't hurt the wrongdoer. It's hurting the victim."
While the problem of noisy horns has been settled — at least for now thanks to an injunction — about 400 vehicles remain on downtown streets, according to Ottawa police, and that continues to lead to a lot of fumes from idling trucks.
WATCH | Some of what happened in Ottawa Thursday:
Withdrawing insurance coverage is also unlikely to alter a protester's behaviour, Knutsen said, because Canadian and provincial laws are designed to protect someone who may need compensation as a result of an incident. In this case, that's the City of Ottawa and its residents.
"I think the greatest consequence is … your assets may be exposed … that may not have much of a deterrent effect if you have nothing to lose," he said, adding insurance would also be necessary to move the vehicle out of Ottawa.
That may not have much of a deterrent effect if you have nothing to lose. - Erik Knutsen, Queen's University
As for commercial insurance coverage for a company owner, once a driver intentionally causes harm the insurance would be gone.
"The whole point of this is for people to disrupt, to get a message across … so if that behaviour moves from something that accidentally causes harm to intentionally causes harm, there goes your insurance," said Knutsen.
Looking for solutions
Both the City of Ottawa and Ontario Ministry of Transportation officials have examined how to use commercial vehicle licensing and insurance to convince truckers to leave the capital, but it's also an unlikely tool.
"All sanctions require proper notice to be given to participants for an opportunity to respond," said ministry spokesperson Dakota Brasier in an email to CBC.
From the perspective of an insurance company, it can't just choose to take away the insurance of a driver involved in the Ottawa protest.
"There are a certain set of rules and circumstances to be followed, notice periods, by way of registered letters and those kinds of things," said Bryan Yetman, president of First Durham Insurance in Pickering Ont.
"I think that the industry would be hard pressed to walk away from these customers, mid-rally."
If the protest action continues for weeks or months and insurers are aware of a customer's involvement, Yetman said a company could probably decline a policy's renewal.