Protests from Canada’s truckers: live updates
Canadians woke up Monday to their capital, Ottawa, under a state of emergency, as protesting truckers continued to occupy the center of political power in the country and calls grew in some quarters for the government to take action. more drastic measures to end the crisis.
With protests rumbling through traffic and disrupting business and residential districts, Ottawa City Council was due to meet on Monday to try to find a way out of the upheaval.
The protests, in which some demonstrators desecrated national memorials and threatened local residents, have shaken a country known worldwide as a beacon of humanism, peace and serenity.
On Sunday afternoon, the mayor of Ottawa declared an emergency after 11 days of unrest that began with protests by truckers against vaccination mandates imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. The protests have since morphed into an occupation of Canada’s capital and broader protests against pandemic restrictions that have spread far beyond the capital.
“Someone is going to be killed or seriously injured because of the irresponsible behavior of some of these people,” Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa, warned Sunday. City officials and the police chief said they were “besieged”.
A city councilor, Catherine McKenney, wrote last week to Mr. Trudeau and the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Brenda Lucki, asking that the Canadian National Police and the federal government take operational control of Parliament Hill and the Parliamentary Precinct to allow Ottawa Local Policing to refocus on keeping the peace in local neighborhoods.
Thousands of people demonstrated in Toronto and Quebec over the weekend. Convoys of trucks gathered near provincial legislatures in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia. Downtown Ottawa, site of the country’s Parliament, was brought to a standstill as truckers parked their vehicles at intersections and on busy thoroughfares.
Early Monday morning in Ottawa, it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny, and the thousands of weekend protesters were gone. The streets near Parliament were quiet without the weekend horns. But the trucks were still blocking the roads leading to Parliament Hill and, with overnight snowfall, they were part of the snowy landscape. Most had license plates from Ontario or Quebec, with a few from Alberta in the west of the country. Many were decorated with Canadian flags. Several carried anti-Covid restriction posters and signs.
Late Sunday evening, heavily armed police seized a tanker truck containing more than 3,000 liters of diesel fuel in a staging area used by truckers and arrested people in downtown Ottawa for transporting fuel.
Near Parliament, one of the protesters said the group was ready in case police seized more diesel fuel or their trucks were towed away.
“What we are doing is within the law,” said Eric, a protester from Niagara Region, Ont., who declined to give his full name. He was in a big delivery truck with a poppy painted on the side. Eric said he couldn’t say specifically what he wanted from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but he needed to be “a man of the people.”
Throughout the pandemic, Canadians have lived under various restrictions to combat the coronavirus. Although polls show most Canadians support the measures, the protests are an expression of frustration as the pandemic enters its third year.
The protests were initially sparked by Mr Trudeau’s decision to demand Covid vaccinations for truckers returning from the United States, but they turned into a more general protest against pandemic rules such as vaccination mandates, closures and rules requiring mask-wearing, as well as Mr. Trudeau’s stewardship of the country.
As the convoy rolled on, it was joined and eventually outnumbered by partisans traveling in vans and cars. The group – loosely organized and without a single, clear leader – has also broadened its demands, urging Mr Trudeau to end all Covid rules and restrictions in Canada, including those set by provinces and local governments.
Long before the first trucks began arriving in Ottawa on January 28, Trudeau said he would not cancel the vaccine mandate. He refused to meet the members of the groups, whom he described as a “marginal minority”.