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31 Jan, 2022 19:18

Trudeau reappears to denounce ‘Freedom Convoy’ truckers

PM vows not to give in to ‘Nazi symbolism, racist imagery’ of protesting Canadian truckers
Trudeau reappears to denounce ‘Freedom Convoy’ truckers

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reappeared in public after several days, criticizing the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers protesting his vaccine mandates in Ottawa as tainted by racist, Nazi extremists desecrating war memorials.

After reports that he had been moved to an “undisclosed location” over the weekend due to security concerns, Trudeau emerged from hiding on Monday to announce that he tested positive for Covid-19 – despite having had it before, and being triple-vaccinated.

He then held a virtual press conference to denounce the protest.

“Canadians were shocked, and frankly disgusted by the behavior of some people protesting in our nation’s capital,” he said. “We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless.”

He also referenced reports in the Canadian media that at least three protesters climbed onto the National War Memorial and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and that a Nazi flag and a Confederate flag were spotted at the protest.

“Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials” are not acceptable free speech but “an insult to memory and truth,” Trudeau said. “We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags, we won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonor the memory of our veterans.”

Trudeau also appealed to the “nearly 90% of truckers who’ve gotten vaccinated” who he said were doing the right thing by continuing to work, saying that “the behavior on display this weekend does not represent you.”

“You can rely on us to continue to stand with you and allow you to do your jobs safely,” the PM added.

Thousands of truckers drove across Canada to protest Trudeau’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate and other restrictive measures. They arrived in Ottawa on Saturday and have been honking their horns, singing the Canadian anthem, and dancing in protest on Parliament Hill ever since. 

Trudeau has previously dismissed them as a “fringe minority” holding “unacceptable opinions.” 

No violence, arrests or injuries have been reported at the trucker protest so far. The protesters have also collected funds for a bounty to identity the Nazi flag carrier, organized by the sympathetic media outlet True North.

Trudeau himself pointed out he attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, in June 2020, because he “agreed with the goals” of that movement, but was choosing to “not go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence towards fellow citizens and a disrespect not just of science but of the frontline health workers.” His critics have pointed out that BLM protesters have repeatedly desecrated and destroyed monuments.

“Canadians know where I stand,” Trudeau said. “This is a moment for responsible leaders to think carefully about where they stand, and who they stand with.”