The city’s mayor has described the action as a “threat to the safety and security of residents”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency in Canada’s capital on Sunday following ten consecutive days of trucker protests against Covid vaccine mandates in the downtown part of the city. He stated the demonstration was a threat to people’s security, as large trucks have blocked the downtown area. The government isn’t planning to give in to the truckers’ demands, which began with wanting exemptions from mandatory vaccinations but have now expanded to calls for the PM to step down.
How did it all start?
The Freedom Convoy, comprised of truckers from various Canadian provinces, descended on Ottawa on January 29, setting up camp at Parliament Hill. The activists were initially protesting against Covid vaccination mandates imposed on January 15 by the Canadian government, which required that all truckers crossing over from the US be inoculated. Until recently, unvaccinated truckers were exempted by Canadian authorities for fear of supply chain disruptions.
However, the group’s demands have since expanded, with the truckers now calling on Justin Trudeau to step down and for all Covid measures to be ditched.
Several thousand protesters have effectively blocked downtown Ottawa with their trucks and other vehicles. It is hard to pinpoint the precise number of protesters at present, as not all the activists are staying at the site permanently.
How are the authorities tackling the protest?
On Sunday, Ottawa police announced they were “
collecting financial, digital, vehicle registration” which would later be used in “ criminal prosecutions.” Officers have also begun clamping down on those supplying the truckers with fuel, with several clips on social media apparently capturing the moment when the police confiscated canisters from people. On top of that, authorities have charged four people with hate crimes and are working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to probe threats made against public figures. Is Trudeau’s government prepared to meet protesters halfway?
The Canadian government has made it clear it will stand its ground on Covid vaccination. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told journalists on Sunday that the government had “
put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot” during the 2021 election and was “ simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had to leave his downtown home last weekend due to security concerns, has branded the truckers a “
small fringe minority.” Where are they getting money from?
The convoy had been relying on GoFundMe to raise money for their cause. However, the crowdfunding platform announced on Friday that it would freeze the truckers’ page over concerns that the protest had become violent. By then, the truckers had managed to raise some 10 million Canadian dollars (US $7.8 million), which GoFundMe initially promised to give to charities instead.
But on Saturday GoFundMe announced it would actually refund donors within seven to 10 business days, and not send the money to charities. The change of tack was apparently triggered by some US Republican politicians, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, calling for the platform to be investigated over potential “
The Freedom Convoy activists, however, seemed undaunted, and quickly switched to a different platform, GiveSendGo.
Who are the critics and supporters of the convoy?
The Canadian Trucking Alliance has criticized the Freedom Convoy, claiming that a lot of protesters had nothing to do with the industry.
Media and Canadian officials alike have accused the truckers of harassing locals with racial slurs, disturbing the public peace with incessant honking and desecrating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. Some reporters claimed they had spotted the Confederate flag and swastikas during the protest.
The Freedom Convoy organizers insist, however, that their movement is entirely peaceful and vehemently deny that the war memorials were defaced or disrespected by the protesters in any way.
Certain members of Canada’s Conservative Party have expressed their support for truckers, along with former US President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
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