According to media reports on Saturday, Justin Trudeau and his family have left their home in Ottawa and moved to another location. In Ottawa, thousands of protesters took part in the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’.
Protests in Ottawa
On Saturday, Canada’s capital Ottawa was filled with a peaceful demonstration against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, and on the snow-covered lawn in front of Parliament. Originally intended as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, the Freedom Convoy turned into a demonstration against government overreach during the pandemic.
As a result of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ of trucks and thousands of demonstrators on Sunday, Ottawa practically came to a halt. As protesters gathered Saturday in Ottawa, sympathizing truckers blocked a border highway into the United States of America. According to Canadian media reports, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were taken to an undisclosed location in Ottawa.
Canada’s mayor was among those who criticized the chaos in Ottawa’s downtown near Parliament over the weekend. The mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, was enraged at the ‘threatening’ behavior of some protesters. ‘Stop the bully tactics and show some respect to fellow Canadians,’ he posted on Twitter. As a result, Watson told CBC that protesters must ‘move on’ so Ottawa can get back to its normal way of life. ‘Quite frankly, (residents) feel they’re prisoners in their own home,’ he said.
A large police presence is in place in downtown Ottawa this afternoon, while a number of protestors and trucks are being managed. ‘The high-risk situations have been de-escalated with no arrests,’ said the police, who added that ‘police resources are fully stretched’ to deal with the obstruction, which appears to involve hundreds of trucks. Noiseful protests threatened to disrupt business on Monday. Local authorities say City Hall would be closed, traffic would be impeded, and certain services could be suspended.
In western Canada, dozens of truckers organized a convoy last week to protest COVID-related restrictions, including the recently implemented vaccination requirements for truckers crossing the US-Canada border. A number of convoys arrived in Ottawa on Friday, joined by large numbers of other anti-vaccination protestors. Yesterday, truckers obstructed Highway 4 along the US-Canada border, a situation the police described as a ‘complete blockage’. Highway 4 is a major commercial route between Canada and the US.
‘As of right now… the port of entry remains open technically speaking, however nobody would be able to get to them except on foot,’ Curtis Peters, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta, told news agency AFP, noting that about 100 trucks had blocked the roadway. An Ottawa city official and a volunteer from a non-government organization were harassed, and a war memorial was desecrated, provoking angry reactions, and the police said they had opened ‘several investigations’.
Several illegally parked vehicles were towed away on Sunday and barricades were erected around the memorial to prevent vehicular access. ‘I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial,’ tweeted Wayne Eyre, the chief of the country’s Defense Staff.