• THE DEN

Anti-mandate protesters refuse to leave Ottawa

|HT|


As the stalemate between thousands of truckers protesting vaccine mandates in the Canadian capital Ottawa, and the government continues, organisers of the Freedom Convoy 2022 have pointed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support in December 2020 for the protests against three controversial farm laws in India. The two main organisers Tamara Lich and B J Dichter both shared posts on Twitter comparing Trudeau’s attitude then and now as the Canadian Prime Minister asserted he won’t go anywhere “near” the protestors when asked whether the government may consider negotiations. Justin Trudeau earned the ire of the Indian government when he volunteered his opinion the news coming out of India was “concerning”. At a virtual event celebrating Gurpurab, the 551th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev, he had said, without being prompted, “We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns.”

Those divergent positions were highlighted by the organisers in their pointed retweets even as the protests in Ottawa appear to have attracted some who also supported the opposition to the Indian agricultural reform laws that were later withdrawn.

Trudeau still remains at an undisclosed location in the National Capital Region, even as he announced on Monday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Later in the day, he launched an attack on the protesters, as he tweeted that “over the past few days, Canadians have been shocked - and, frankly, disgusted - by the behaviour displayed by some people protesting in our nation’s capital”. In the light of reports of misbehaviour by some protesters, Justin Trudeau said, “We’re not intimidated by those who hurl abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless. We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. And we won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism, or dishonour the memory of our veterans.”

“There is no place in Canada for this behaviour. So, to those responsible: It needs to stop. And to those who joined the convoy but are uncomfortable with the symbols of hatred and division on display: Be courageous and speak out. Do not stand for, or with, intolerance and hate,” he added.

However, the truckers appear to be staying the course and continuing the protest indefinitely. An online fundraiser has already garnered over 9mn Canadian dollars ($7mn approx). Ottawa Police Service chief Peter Sloly said on Monday that all options were on the table to “safely and effectively resolve this demonstration”.

In a statement, he said there were no injuries, no deaths and no riots in the last four days, “even though we have a global cause, national protest”.

However, he added there were “several active criminal investigations” in place for bribery to threats to assault to the dangerous operation of vehicles.

“This demonstration is unique in nature, massive in scale, polarising in context and dangerous in literally every other aspect of the event itself,” he said.

The protests, originally predicated on removing vaccine mandates on truckers playing between Canada and the United States, has broadened to calls for removing vaccine passports and lockdowns. On Monday, the non-profit polling agency Angus Reid Institute (ARI) reported that “many Canadians are leaning towards reducing restrictions related to Covid-19 control in Canada.

Their poll said a majority of those sampled, 54%, “now say it is time to remove restrictions and let Canadians manage their own level of risk, an increase of 15 percentage points since this question was asked in early January”.

As Ottawa Police said the protest has scaled down since the weekend when tens of thousands crowded into the city’s downtown, large numbers still remain causing gridlock in the capital. However, as Parliament opened on Monday, there was no disruption caused by the protesters.



(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)