Sunday, August 7, 2022

Families and protesters attend Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa’s first in person since 2019

OTTAWA – Hundreds of protesters marching in the name of “freedom” returned to the capital’s city streets on Friday, ending Canada Day, which began with a call for unity from the prime minister.

“Canada is about people who are constantly fighting for something,” Justin Trudeau said after arriving at Canada Day celebrations a day west of downtown Ottawa.

He commended front line health workers, the Canadian military, Ukrainian Canadians and the diversity of the Canadian population.

The country has work to do to advance indigenous reconciliation, he said, referring to the graves of unmarked schoolchildren lined up for last year’s Canada Day.

But he tried to underscore the common ground by saying that the Canadian flag represents our achievements and our desire for improvement… Let’s remember that value: compassion, hope, responsibility, justice, openness. , hard work.

Trudeau and his family were accompanied by more than a dozen protective RCMP bodyguards as the prime minister shook hands and quickly moved through the crowd through a guarded closed path. There was no shouting or shouting at him, though on Parliament Hill, protesters carried signs and flags, continuing the vaccine-mandated, anti-Trudeau campaign of last winter’s so-called Freedom Convoy.

Anti-vaccine mandate group Stand4the planned a civilian arrest of Trudeau more than two kilometers away on Parliament Hill. The group framed the arrest, which did not take place as a celebration in “restoring the rights and freedoms we have always enjoyed, as Canadians”. The group is opposing the invocation of the Federal Emergencies Act, claiming it illegally ends the convoy movement that jammed the capital earlier this year.

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Security officers were on high alert, with Ottawa police warning they would act on any disturbances and violations of the law, unlike the occupation and blockades in January and February. Four people were arrested after a clash at the National War Memorial on Thursday night, in which police allege an officer was strangled.

Over the past two days, Ottawa police issued 275 parking tickets and pulled 72 vehicles out of downtown, which was closed to prevent a repeat of the winter protests that have disrupted and occupied Ottawa for more than three weeks. Had taken.

A man protesting COVID-19 health measures argues with a counter-protester during a demonstration in the downtown core of Ottawa, Ont.  During Canada Day celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Andrew Larche, who wore a full-body cloak and cape made of Canadian flags, danced at a Wellington Street stop and then at LeBreton Flats. He said he was not part of and did not support the convoy protest, and always wrapped himself in flags. “Everyone by himself… This is my way of having fun. I wore a mask last year, this year we can go without it. So here I am.”

However, in the middle of the afternoon, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Peace Tower, raising slogans of “Azadi” and “Freedom”.

They waved placards, F – Trudeau flags and some chanted “Hold the line.” Others livestreamed their march as they headed west on Wellington St and Down Bank St.

People protesting against COVID-19 health measures are seen during a demonstration in the downtown core of Ottawa, Ont.  During Canada Day celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Bethan Nodwell with Freedom Fighters Canada encourages the crowd to listen to herself with a microphone, “We’re winning.”

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“We’re frontier, we’re a culture movement now….we’ll keep it peaceful. We’re gonna keep it fringe-y.”

Others chanted “Free Pat King” and “Free Tamara” in reference to key convoy organizers arrested in February.

By evening, the crowd of some people had reduced.

Nodwell said Thursday’s war memorial event was “an isolated incident” and the crowd “did not attend.” She said the media had tried to intimidate people, but the marches on a 20-block loop around downtown Ottawa were peaceful.

Ottawa residents watch the parade pass from skyscraper balconies. Others flip the bird to marchers.

Nodwell asked the marchers not to attend.

“We know what we’re doing. We used to be a Freedom Convoy, and now we are the Canada March. Invincible.”

He turned down Trudeau’s appeal for unity. “I don’t know what to say to Trudeau,” he said, adding that he has refused to “meet with us” and “hid under his bed with COVID.”

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @R_SPatel

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