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State of emergency declared to tackle trucking blockade in Ottawa

A section of Wellington street in front of Parliament Hill is seen clear of trucks, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

On Sunday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced a state of emergency to deal with an unprecedented 10-day protest by truckers that has shut down much of the Canadian capital’s centre.

What they’re saying: “(This) reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” Watson said in a statement.

  • Watson, who had earlier claimed that the demonstrators outnumbered the police and were in control of the scene, did not specify what measures he would take.
  • The “Freedom Convoy” started as a protest against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but it has since evolved into a rallying point against public health policies and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
  • Ottawa police relocated some protestors and erected new barricades on Sunday, saying they are “collecting financial, digital, vehicle registration … and other evidence that will be used in criminal prosecutions.”
  • They also stated that anyone attempting to bring in canisters to refuel the hundreds of huge trucks that are blocking major roads in the city centre will be prosecuted.
A man sits on top of a camper in front of Parliament Hill as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
People carry signs, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
A man relaxes in his pickup truck as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What’s going on: For the past nine days, protesters have stopped downtown Ottawa, with some displaying Confederate or Nazi flags and others claiming they want to topple Canada’s government. Organizers of the convoy have stated that they will not depart unless the vaccine mandates are lifted.

  • On Sunday, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino stated that the government will not budge on the matter. “We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the (2021) election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said on CBC television.
  • Despite the constant horn blasting and occasional explosions, the demonstrators have been nourished by a well-oiled supply network that includes portable saunas, a community kitchen, and children’s bouncy castles.
  • According to police, the well-organized barricade has received some support from sympathisers in the United States. The removal of the Freedom Convoy’s fundraising page by GoFundMe enraged numerous Republican politicians in the United States, who promised to examine the move.
  • The truckers have received accolades from former U.S. President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
  • Police said they had charged four persons with hate crimes and were working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate threats against public figures.
People wave flags on top of a truck in front of Parliament Hill as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
A person stands beside jerry gas cans, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
Police officers walk through protest crowd in front of the Parliament Hill, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

What’s important: Trudeau has ruled out employing the military to dissolve the demonstration after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Trudeau and his family left their downtown residence last weekend due to security concerns, and his whereabouts are unknown.

  • The convoy, according to the Prime Minister, represents a “tiny fringe group,” and the government will not be frightened. Almost 79 per cent of the population and 90 per cent of cross-border truckers in Canada have had two COVID-19 vaccine shots.
  • The organisers of the convoy said they would refrain from using their horns for four hours on Sunday “as a sign of goodwill.”
  • The ease with which the convoy locked down the area around the parliament and the police’s apparent weakness, according to a senior member of the Liberal government, was a “national humiliation.”
  • Senior Conservatives who encouraged the protests by snapping selfies with trucks did not respond to demands for comment. The party fired its leader last week, in part because he did not support the blockage passionately enough at first.
People carry signs, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
A person waves a Canadian flag in front of a truck, as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 5, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday as a trucker-led demonstration against vaccine mandates entered a 10th day and the government said it would not back down on the issue
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