The mayor of Canada’s capital on Sunday declared a state of emergency to deal with an unprecedented protest that has seen truckers shut down Ottawa’s core for more than a week due to Covid-19 rules.
Dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” the demonstration has seen hundreds of truckers blocking city streets, honking their horns and disrupting traffic. But the protest has also sparked a backlash over alleged harassment, as well as the presence of Confederate and swastika flags.
As the protest began over vaccination requirements for truckers crossing the US-Canada border, it quickly became a rallying point for opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and the coronavirus measures it imposed. And it has also garnered support from Republican politicians in the United States.
said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson in a statement on Sunday that the demonstration represents a “serious danger and threat to the security and protection of local residents”.
Watson said the city needs “support from other jurisdictions and levels of government” to respond to the major disruption.
It gave no details on what actions it might impose on itself as part of its emergency declaration.
Ottawa residents have shared reports on social media of being afraid to leave their homes and experiencing sleepless nights as truckers honk their horns throughout the night.
in one Explanation On Sunday, the Ottawa Police Service said at least 60 criminal investigations have been launched so far in connection with the demonstration, including alleged hate crimes, mischief, theft and property damage.
On Sunday alone, police said they had made at least seven arrests and issued at least 100 traffic tickets.
Several people were arrested for mischief, while several vehicles and fuel were seized, police said.
It said more than 100 notices had also been issued on the Road Traffic Act and other provincial offenses, including excessive honking, wrong-way driving, readily available alcohol and possession of the inappropriate class of driver’s license.
Police warned they would crack down on anyone trying to bring jerry cans to fuel the hundreds of trucks blocking downtown Ottawa’s roads. Those caught doing so could be arrested and charged, she warned.
Organizers of the Freedom Convoy have said they will not leave Ottawa’s core until vaccine mandates in Canada end.
Meanwhile, Canadian officials have said they will not back down either.
On Sunday, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada had already “put the issue of vaccines and vaccination mandates on the ballot” in the 2021 election.
“We’re simply delivering on the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Mendicino said the federal government is also fulfilling a request from Ottawa Mayor for “more boots on the ground,” with members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assisting local and provincial authorities in responding to the demonstration.
“I am very concerned by the various reports we have heard from Ottawa residents,” he added. “We have heard about threats and intimidation and the spread of hatred. We saw Confederate flags and swastikas flying on (Parliament Hill). That is absolutely unacceptable.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also condemned the scenes that unfolded in central Ottawa, branding the protesters a “small marginal minority” in society.
Trudeau and other Canadian officials have repeatedly stressed that around 90 percent of truckers in the country have been vaccinated, consistent with the nearly 90 percent of Canadians who have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
In a recent nationwide survey conducted by Abacus Dataan Ottawa-based polling and market research firm, 68 percent of respondents said they felt they had “very little in common with the perspective of protesters in Ottawa.”
While many Canadians have condemned the demonstration, it has garnered some support inside and outside Canada’s borders as former President Donald Trump praised the protesters at a rally last month.
Trump card commented on the protest again on Friday, this time aiming at Trudeau. He branded the Canadian prime minister a “far left lunatic” and said he supports efforts to bring the “Freedom Convoy” to Washington, DC