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Tensions were high in Ottawa on Sunday as 50,000 truckers blockaded the Canadian capital demanding an end to vaccine mandates for their drivers, and locals were angered by the waving of swastika flags and desecration of the war memorial.
On Friday, police in Nova Scotia announced there would be fines of up to $10,000 CA ($7,800) for anyone blocking the highway, as more truckers converged on Ottawa from across the country.
Ottawa police on Sunday confirmed they had opened an investigation after some of the protesters were filmed dancing and drinking on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some reports suggested people had urinated on the memorial. Vehicles were parked on the Cenotaph, in what police said was a sign of disrespect.
A statue of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete and cancer research activist, was adorned with a placard against mandates, sparking widespread revulsion.
‘The Terry Fox Foundation is proud to continue Terry’s mission of funding cancer research. Terry believed in science and gave his life to help others,’ the Terry Fox Foundation said, in comments retweeted by Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister.
Trudeau and his family have left their home in Ottawa for a secret location ‘in the capital region’ as a safety precaution. The hashtag ‘Trudeau Hiding’ was trending on Twitter.
Protesters sparked fury by dancing on Saturday on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa
Ottawa residents were angered by some of the protesters flying swastika flags on Saturday
Trudeau (pictured) said Friday that the truckers’ views – which he described as anti-science, anti-government and anti-society – posed a risk not only to themselves but to other Canadians as well
Protesters are seen in Ottawa on Saturday demanding an end to vaccine mandates
The convoy of parked vehicles can be seen stretching beyond Ottawa city limits on Sunday
Ottawa police said no arrests were made during Saturday’s protests, despite ‘several challenges with demonstrators, including sporadic road blockages by trucks, which officers worked to clear.’
They added: ‘These high-risk situations were de-escalated and resolved with no arrests.’
The police also asked people to make reports, rather than flagging social media to them.
‘Several criminal investigations are underway in relation to the desecration of the National War Memorial/Terry Fox statue, threatening/illegal/intimidating behaviour to police/city workers and other individuals and damage to a city vehicle,’ the police tweeted.
‘Illegal behaviour will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated.
‘We have investigative and evidence-gathering teams in place to support the management of the demonstration.’
General Wayne Eyre, chief of the defense staff, tweeted: ‘I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial.
‘Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this.
‘Those involved should hang their heads in shame.’
The protest has been condemned by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, a major industry group.
They said the vast majority of the country’s truck drivers are vaccinated, with officials saying over 80 percent are inoculated.
It has ‘strongly disapproved’ of the gathering in Ottawa.
Nationwide, 90 percent of Canadians are vaccinated.
The truckers are protesting a vaccine mandate for their industry brought in on January 15, which means that unvaccinated Canadian drivers returning to their homeland must take a COVID test before crossing the US-Canada border, and quarantine on arrival.
Unvaccinated Canadian drivers cannot now enter the United States, and unvaccinated American drivers cannot enter Canada, after previous exemptions expired.
Hundreds of truckers have driven their giant rigs into Ottawa as part of a self-titled ‘Freedom Convoy’.
Trudeau called the truckers headed for the city a ‘small fringe minority’ before the convoy of hundreds of vehicles grew up to 45 miles long, as it made its way to the capital.
The convoy set out from British Columbia on Sunday and crossed the country for a week, with others joining along the route.
The movement has become a cause celebre for many on the right of politics in the United States.
But Catherine McKenney, a councillor representing Ottawa, said that her constituents wanted the truckers to leave.
‘Centretown residents have had enough. All-night honking; music; swastikas; public urination & defecation.
‘I have asked @OttawaPolice remove protestors from the QED & out of all residential areas. Residents deserve peace and relief from these disgusting acts. #OttNews’
A protester on Saturday is seen in the Canadian capital, Ottawa
Flying the Canadian flag, waving banners demanding ‘Freedom’ and chanting slogans against Trudeau, the truckers were joined by thousands of other protesters angered not only by COVID-19 restrictions but by broader discontent with the government.
There was an enormous clamor as hundreds of big trucks, their engines rumbling, sounded their air horns non-stop.
Closer to Parliament, families calmly marched on a bitterly cold day, while young people chanted and older people in the crowd banged pots and pans in protest under Trudeau’s office windows.
‘I want it all to stop – these measures are unjustified,’ said one demonstrator, 31-year-old businessman Philippe Castonguay, outside the Parliament building.
He had driven seven hours from northern Quebec province to make his feelings known.
‘The vaccination requirements are taking us toward a new society we never voted for,’ he said.
Trudeau said Friday that the truckers’ views – which he described as anti-science, anti-government and anti-society – posed a risk not only to themselves but to other Canadians as well.
Hundreds of truckers drove their giant rigs into the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday as part of a self-titled ‘Freedom Convoy’ which started as a protest against vaccine mandates required to cross the US border
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family have left their home in the national’s capital Ottawa for a secret location as up to 50,000 truckers gather to protest against the country’s vaccine mandate and Covid lockdowns
Days earlier, he had called the truckers headed for the city a ‘small fringe minority’ before the convoy of hundreds of vehicles grew up to 45 miles long as it made its way to the capital .
The movement received an endorsement Thursday from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk , who tweeted, ‘Canadian truckers rule’ and the movement has become a cause celebre for many on the right in the United States
Flying the Canadian flag, waving banners demanding ‘Freedom’ and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the truckers were joined by thousands of other protesters angered not only by COVID-19 restrictions but by broader discontent with the government
There was an enormous clamor as hundreds of big trucks, their engines rumbling, sounded their air horns non-stop
Closer to Parliament, families calmly marched on a bitterly cold day, while young people chanted and older people in the crowd banged pots and pans in protest under Trudeau’s office windows
Canadian media said the prime minister and his family had been escorted out of their home and taken to a secret location in the capital, with much of the protesters’ wrath directed at Trudeau
Satellite images show hundreds of truckers gathered to protest against the country’s vaccine mandate and Covid lockdowns
Police said they were expecting eight convoys, totaling several thousand vehicles, and perhaps 10,000 demonstrators.
Stephen Penderness, an unvaccinated 28-year-old trucker from Ontario, said he was protesting for all Canadians, not just his fellow drivers.
‘It’s actually for every single person… everybody on the road,’ he said. ‘It’s all about your free choice.’
Quebec resident Louise agreed.
‘We shouldn’t be forced to get vaccinated, regardless of the vaccine.’
She said vaccine passports ‘represent an intrusion in our personal lives.’
There was a strong police presence around the federal capital, amid fears the protest could turn violent.
Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly described the situation as ‘unique, fluid, risky and significant.’
‘Let me be very clear,’ he told reporters on Friday, ‘we are prepared to investigate, arrest if necessary, charge and prosecute anyone who acts violently or breaks the law.’
He urged local residents to stay off the roads.
The zone around the Parliament was closed for the weekend.
While their trucks were parked in front of the parliamentary buildings, protestors marched carrying copies of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, while others carried signs reading ‘God keep our land glorious and free,’ ‘Make Canada great again,’ and ‘we are here for our freedom,’ the Toronto Sun reported.
Ottawa Police were at the scene warning truckers that any vehicles blocking emergency lanes or other locations that must be kept clear for public safety reasons would be towed.
On Saturday morning demonstrators marched up and down the streets in front Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office waving the Canadian flag in protest of the vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers crossing the U.S border
Trucks sit parked on Wellington Street near the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa as truckers and their supporters take part in a convoy to protest vaccine mandates on Saturday
Hundreds of truckers drove their giant rigs into the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday as part of a self-titled ‘Freedom Convoy’ to protest vaccine mandates required to cross the US border
A man carried a US Confederate flag with a semi-truck during the Freedom Convoy protesting Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in front of Parliament on Saturday
A protestor carried a ‘United Against Tyranny’ sign during Saturday’s protest against vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa
A protestor carries a cut out of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau who has dismissed the protest from the truckers as a disgruntled few, pointing out that almost 90 percent of his country is vaccinated
Supporters of the Freedom Convoy protest in front of Parliament in Ottawa on Saturday. One protestor proudly wave a ‘F**k Trudeau’ flag
A protestor at the Freedom Convoy protest in front of Parliament wears a ‘Freedom’ hat as she joins thousands of Canadian truckers against the Covid-19 vaccine mandate
On Saturday morning demonstrators marched up and down the streets in front Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office waving flags- including the Canadian flag marked with the word ‘Liberte’
Protesters write in the snow as hundreds of truckers drive their giant rigs into the Canadian capital of Ottawa
At the protest was Tom Pappin, 53, who came from just outside Ottawa.
‘I can travel freely through the border, and not be in contact with anyone. Yet I’m locked into my own country right now,’ he said.
‘I can’t go on a holiday. I can’t go to a restaurant, I can’t go bowling. I can’t go to a movie. You know, these are things that it’s just gotten out of control.’
Pappin told the Toronto Sun that attendees are likely to stay parked by Parliament until vaccine mandates are lifted.
Other protestors were more realistic about what the protest would accomplish.
‘It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think anything will happen immediately,’ Phil Powers, a truck driver from Oshawa, Ontario told the Toronto Sun.
‘This is the Canadian space to have the debate, so that’s why we’re here.’
Truckers from the US – who are only allowed into Canada if they are vaccinated – have also joined the massive convoy.
Hundreds of Canadians have lined the TransCanada Highway 20 to cheer on a 45-mile-long convoy of up to 50,000 truckers who are heading to Ottawa to protest the government’s covid vaccine mandate for drivers crossing the US-Canada border
The convoy assembled in British Columbia on Sunday, and are seen on January 28 being cheered on in Levis, Quebec by supporters
50,000 truckers are making their way across Canada in a 45-mile-long convoy in protest of vaccine mandates that now prohibit truckers from crossing the US-Canadian border without proof of vaccination
Canadians standing on an overpass in Kingston, Ontario cheer the truck drivers on. One pickup truck is seen pulling a trailer with a sign saying: ‘Freedom doesn’t require permission’
A driver gets his pickup truck, with a sign saying ‘Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee Freedom’, ready for the convoy line in Kingston, Ontario on Friday
50,000 truckers are making their way across Canada in a 45-mile-long convoy in protest of vaccine mandates that would prohibit truckers from crossing the US-Canadian border without proof of vaccination
Canadians gather on a bridge over Highway 400 in Vaughan, Ontario, to support the Freedom Convoy
Pickup trucks with Canadian flags and ‘freedom’ signs get ready to join the convoy in Kingston on Friday
Truckers left from British Columbia on Sunday and will be met in the nation’s capital on Saturday by other protesters driving from the east and the south of the country. The convoy has been joined by US truckers
The Toronto Sun estimated that up to 50,000 trucks could be participating – this convoy could exceed the existing record for the world’s longest by 10 times if it stays intact until its intended destination
‘It’s 70 kilometers long,’ Benjamin Dichter, a spokesman for the Freedom Convoy 2022, told the Toronto Sun. ‘I have seen footage from an airplane. It’s impressive’
In a list of demands, the organizers of the Freedom Convoy are calling for an end to vaccine passports and for the federal government to respect the rights of the unvaccinated
Hutterites have shown out in numbers not just greet the truckers with signs as they drive by, but to keep them fed
The longest convoy in history was just five miles long, consisted of 480 trucks, and took place in Egypt in 2020, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
In a list of demands, the organizers of the Freedom Convoy are calling for an end to vaccine passports and for the federal government to respect the rights of the unvaccinated.
Trudeau hit the brakes on their demands.
‘What we are hearing from some people associated with this convoy is completely unacceptable,’ he said.
‘We know the way through this pandemic is to get everyone vaccinated.
‘The overwhelming majority, close to 90 percent of Canadians, have done exactly that.’
But supporters of the convoy disagree, with one driver saying that ‘the amount of trucks involved and the amount of people showing up here, this shows the frustrations of Canadians and it’s going to continue to grow.’
‘A lot of people are trying to say that these type of things are done out of anger, but this is actually being done out of frustration towards the things the government is imposing upon Canadian citizens,’ a man named Trevor told Global News when the convoy passed through the Balgonie area, declining to give his surname
The Freedom Convoy left from Vancouver to Ottawa on Sunday in protest. They intend to hold a protest in Ottawa upon arriving on January 29
A GoFundMe initiative has already raised $6,365,040 towards the protest since it was launched on January 14, with organizers saying that the money will go toward the gas, food and shelter of the participating truckers
Canada has enacted some of the most strict COVID-19 protocols worldwide.
Ontario will only closed its restaurants, gyms and movie theaters early this month, and will only reopen them at the beginning of February.
Vaccinations were mandated in for federal workers last year, and the premier of Quebec announced plans to penalize unvaccinated residents that don’t have a medical reason not to get the shot.
On Thursday night, Elon Musk tweeted: ‘If you scare people enough, they will demand removal of freedom. This is the path to tyranny’
He also praised the protesters, tweeting on Thursday that ‘Canadian truckers rule’
Musk stated in September of 2020 that he and his family would not be getting vaccinated because they are not at risk, and said he most likely had a mild case of the virus in November
The Freedom Convoy left from Vancouver to Ottawa on Sunday in protest. They intend to hold a protest in Ottawa upon arriving on January 29
Canada has enacted some of the most strict COVID-19 protocols worldwide. Ontario will only closed its restaurants, gyms and movie theaters early this month, and will only reopen them at the beginning of February