Ottawa’s mayor has declared a state of emergency in the Canadian capital after a week-long protest by truckers against Covid-19 restrictions shut down its downtown area and sparked allegations of interference in business interiors by American groups.
The ‘freedom truck convoy’ started as a movement against a nationwide requirement for vaccines for truckers crossing the border from the United States, but turned into a rallying point against health measures public in Canada.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson pledged to reclaim “the city” from protesters and said the emergency declaration underscored the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government. Protesters behaved “insensitively” by continuously “sounding horns and sirens, [setting off] fireworks and make it a party,” he said. “Obviously we are outnumbered and we are losing this battle. This needs to be reversed.
The state of emergency gives the city additional procurement and service delivery powers, which could help it buy the equipment needed by frontline workers and first responders.
The protests have drawn US groups opposed to Covid-19 restrictions and high-profile Republican figures, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024, and Donald Trump, who has called the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, of “extreme left”. crazy” who had “destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates”.
On Sunday, Bruce Heyman, US ambassador under President Barack Obama, said this interference must end.
“Canada-US relations were mostly about resolving technical issues,” he tweeted. “Today, Canada unfortunately faces radical American politicians who get involved in Canadian domestic issues. Trump and his supporters are a threat not only to the United States but to all democracies.
“Under no circumstances should a group in the United States fund disruptive activities in Canada. Period. Complete stop.”
Police in Ottawa announcement that anyone attempting to support the blockade, including gas, could be arrested. “Overnight, protesters engaged in extremely disruptive and unlawful behavior, which presented risks to public safety and unacceptable distress to Ottawa residents,” according to a press release on the site. Ottawa Police website.
The growing crackdown in Ottawa came as protests spread to other cities over the weekend, including Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax and Vancouver.
Thousands of protesters descended on the capital again this weekend, joining around 100 who had stayed since last weekend. Ottawa residents are furious at the incessant horns, traffic disruptions and harassment and fear no end is in sight after the police chief called it a ‘seat’ he couldn’t to manage.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford described the scenes as unacceptable and “an occupation.”
A GoFundMe campaign supporting the convoy was shut down by the site on Friday. GoFundMe said it would refund or redirect to charity the vast majority of the millions raised by protesters. DeSantis and other Republicans said they would investigate the site.
In other signs of how the convoy has been seized by the American right, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted, “Patriotic Texans donated to the noble cause of Canadian truckers,” and the Texas Senator Ted Cruz said on Fox News “the government has no right to force you to comply with their arbitrary mandates.”
Gerald Butts, a former senior adviser to Justin Trudeau, tweeted in response to comments from south of the border: “For some high-level American politicians, patriotism means hiring a mob to besiege a G7 capital.
In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, police controlled and later ended a much smaller protest by setting up roadblocks and preventing trucks or cars from approaching the provincial legislature. Police also moved in to clear a key intersection in the city.
Many Canadians were outraged by the rude behavior of the protesters. Some protesters set off fireworks on the grounds of the National War Memorial on Friday evening. A number of them carried signs and flags with swastikas last weekend and compared vaccination mandates to fascism.
Protesters have said they will not leave until all mandates and Covid-19 restrictions are removed. They are also calling for the removal of the Trudeau government, although it is responsible for some of the measures, most of which were put in place by provincial governments.
Associated Press contributed to this report