We are entering day six of the Freedom Convoy’s siege of Ottawa and, with dozens of big rigs still blocking city streets in the nation’s capital and closing off most of a international border crossing in a tiny Alberta town, police officials have come to the conclusion that this might be out of their depths.
Updated Thursday, February 3, 2:45 p.m. EST - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said sending in the military to quell unrest in Ottawa is not in the cards for now, the Washington Post reports.
“It is not something that anyone should enter in lightly. But as of now, there have been no requests, and that is not in the cards right now,” Trudeau said.
Updated Thursday, February 3, 2022 11:05 a.m. EST - Wednesday saw protesters open up one lane of traffic in either direction. That success was short lived, as protesters set up another blockade fire kilometers north of Coutts, near the town of Milk River, according to Calgary Herald. Police are now asking all traffic to avoid the Coutts border crossing.
From the Guardian:
The Ottawa police chief, Peter Sloly, warned on Wednesday that the officers did not have the resources to remove a fleet of trucks parked by the protesters in the national capital, adding the city was considering requesting help from Canadian armed forces.
But he warned bringing in the military carried a “massive risk”, adding that protesters are believed to have weapons.
“We do not want riots, but all options remain on the table,” he said.\
The police chief said that a “significant element” in the United States was involved in organizing and funding the protests.
Well of course Americans are involved. We export our culture, and our culture is now unhinged. That’s why you see Canadian protesters holding up, among other things, Confederate flags and signs that praise Trump or even have “1776" on them. (In 1776 Canadians were loyal subjects of England. The English colonies in Canada did not join the Revolutionaries’ cause back then the Queen of England was considered the sovereign of the country.)
It does seem like a big job for city police, who have been spending $800,000 a day to focus on de-escalation with protesters. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are having problems. A Mountie was rammed by a protester while trying to break up the blockade of an important international border crossing between Alberta and Montana.
The Mounties were also having trouble finding tow trucks in the area willing to work with officials to clear out the protesters, some worrying about their reputation in the tiny communities that dot Canada’s interior. Protesters there agreed to allow one lane of traffic in both directions to open up, the Washington Post reports.
Well, isn’t that nice of them.
GoFundMe also suspended donations to the Freedom Convoy account last night after it reached $10 million CAD (or about $7.9 million USD). The donation website released a statement saying it was investigating the account to ensure the fundraiser “complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations.” GoFundMe also insisted that the terms of service are clear that money raised through the site are not to be used on acts of violence:
As the activity surrounding the protest evolves, we have been monitoring the fundraiser to ensure the funds are going to the intended recipients and that the fundraiser remains within our Terms of Service. Our monitoring includes maintaining close communication with the organizer as well as collaborating with local law enforcement. This process takes time and may slow down the withdrawal process. If the fundraiser does violate our Terms of Service or does not directly benefit the intended beneficiary, we will remove it from the platform.
The residents of Ottawa have had enough of the harassment, intimidation, displays of hate and trashing of their city that the anti-vax crowd has visited upon them. Three women stood up to a big rig attempting to rumble down their street, as they saw no help from police coming any time soon. Small groups of counter protesters are now hitting the streets, Ottawa Citizen reports:
“A lot of people in my community here in Centretown are suffering and struggling and honestly I just don’t see the reasoning behind protesting for freedom and taking away a whole community’s freedom,” said the man, who declined to give his name because he feared putting himself at risk of further repercussions. “We’re being overrun. This is an incursion. We don’t have the ability to live our lives and workers and businesses and residents are suffering.”
“I’m here because my friends and family don’t feel safe,” said another counter-protester who lives in Centretown. “My friends have been harassed for wearing masks outside. My sister can’t go to work because she’s blocked. I just think it’s very sad because we’ve all suffered through the pandemic together and now they’re just throwing it in our faces and it makes me frustrated.”
The protest is nominally over vaccine mandates for truckers who drive internationally. Canadian regulations require truckers to provide proof of vaccination upon returning to Canada from the U.S. or else quarantine for 14-days. Of the 120,000 Canadian truckers who regularly enter the U.S. only about 12,000 of them remain unvaccinated. Canada as a whole is very supportive of the COVID-19 vaccine. At least 85 percent of Canadians have received one dose, with almost 80 percent fully vaccinated against the virus.