A convoy of truckers and their supporters shut down streets, harassed soup kitchens, disgraced war memorials and generally kept Ottawa police busy over the weekend. The cops in Canada’s capital were really looking forward to a return to normal this week, but that may have been too much to hope for.
Updated Monday, January 31, 2022 3:45 p.m. EST - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement about the protest at it enters day three, according to the Ottawa Citizen:
“Over the past few days Canadians were shocked and frankly disgusted by the behaviour displayed by some people protesting in our nation’s capital,” Trudeau said. “I want to be clear, we are not intimidated by those who hurl insult and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless. We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonour the memory of our veterans.”
While acknowledging that protest is a fundamental part of democracy, Trudeau said the protesters have made their voices heard and that the demonstrations “needs to stop.”
And he urged them to condemn those who espouse racism.
“Be courageous and speak out. Do not stand for or with intolerance or hate,” Trudeau said.
Dozens of large trucks blocked major thoroughfares and blasted their horns well into the evening hours. Police say no outright violence occurred, but they were also kept busy de-escalating confrontations. Several criminal investigations are ongoing due to the convoy:
Police told the Ottawa Citizen they declined to ticket or tow many troublemakers in order to keep the peace. Not a very good look for those defending the nation’s capital, but who can blame them? Some supporters admitted to looking for their own version of Jan. 6, and that would make any police officer terrified.
Ottawa police aren’t the only ones who have just about had it with the unruly protesters, who claim they are going to stay as long as it takes, according to the Ottawa Citizen. What “it” is, is still unclear, but the people who live in Ottawa just want them gone, according to a Catherine McKenney, a councilor representing Ottawa:
They certainly aren’t ingratiating the people of Canada to their already unpopular cause (of the 120,000 Canadian truckers who cross into the U.S., only about 12,000 of them remain unvaccinated.) Confederate flags, Swastikas and Nazi slogans were spotted in the crowd. Videos on social media emerged of protesters dancing and even urinating on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Protesters also decorated the statue of famous cancer researcher Terry Fox with anti-vaccine messaging. Protesters harassed volunteers at a soup kitchen meant for people experiencing food insecurity after they were ejected from restaurants for refusing to wear masks. Anti-vaccine activists lobbed racial slurs and physically attacked both people visiting the kitchen and the people working there:
The whole convoy started in Vancouver as truckers crossing the country to protest Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for drivers who cross into the U.S. Truckers need either a vaccine or to spend 14 days in quarantine upon returning from the U.S to Canada. This is all a moot point, since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires all truckers coming from either Canada or Mexico to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. So even if they somehow won, they still wouldn’t be allowed in the U.S. anyway. Canadian truckers also already submit to very detailed health checks every two years as well as electronic monitoring of their sleep and other metrics, according to the CBC.
At this point, it’s not really fair to call this a trucker’s protest. It’s turned into a much larger boondoggle, with the majority of the participants against all public health measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. For instance, one of the organizers for the convoy, Canada Unity, drew up a pseudo-legal document called a “memorandum of understanding” that would somehow force politicians to either repeal COVID-19 public health measures or resign en mass.
Sixty-two percent of Canadians fully support government lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, but that is a drop in support, Global News reports. As of this writing, close to 84 percent of Canadians had received at least one dose of the vaccine with over 77 percent fully vaccinate, but only around 37 percent have been fully vaccinated and boosted.
The protest has attracted over $9 million CAD in GoFundMe donations, many coming from outside of Canada. That kind of cash could be used to fuel a very long protest indeed.