To sound the horn Semi-trucks jam the streets around Parliament Hill. “Independence!” For three weeks this winter, the scene was a crisis for police, politicians and residents of downtown Ottawa, only to end after the federal government invoked the never-before-used Emergency Act, Which it described as a dangerous and harmful illegal protest.
But for Terry Haider the so-called “Freedom Convoy” was something else entirely.
“It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life,” Haider, 66, a former corrections officer, recalled over the phone in Toronto on Tuesday.
“It was a great pleasure,” she said. “The excitement in the air was electric.”
Now she is coming back for more. Armed with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, pandemic conspiracy theories, and an alleged conviction, the federal government has trampled on fundamental individual liberties in this country, with various groups in the capital for Canada Day on this so-called freedom. staging the return of the movement. It’s a sign that, for people like Haider, the cause of the convoy has not diminished as it was launched to protest health measures – mask requirements, vaccine passports and mandates in federal workplaces – have been removed.
Haider is among those planning to return, while others who traveled to Ottawa last winter say they still believe their movement is necessary for various reasons, even though they are on Canada Day long. Will not be returning for the weekend. In fact, the movement is hardly homogeneous, with high-profile leaders fighting for their logic and goals ranging from peaceful protests to political violence.
As the national coordinator of a group called the Mama Bears Project, Haider plans to stage what she calls a picnic – “not protest” – to promote socially conservative ideas and concerns, in which she talks about the government. In which sex is taught. in schools and has the mistaken idea that the COVID-19 vaccine is an “experimental injection”.
Ryan Penn, a Toronto man who volunteers for a group condemning pandemic restrictions called Take Action Canada, said he participated in a February protest against what he believes was the Emergency Act. There was abuse of power by the police.
While he is unable to attend events in Ottawa for Canada Day, Penn said the movement needs to push back against the perceived erosion of personal liberties, freezing protesters’ bank accounts during convoys and federal Pointing to the use of the emergency act for. Laws to regulate online content.
For three weeks this winter, Ottawa residents and local politicians cried about how the city was placed under “siege,” with relentless respect from hundreds of parked trucks, and reports of harassment involving protesters in the city. with. There were many reports of hate crimes, attacks and damage to property. City officials received death threats, including the police chief, while images of a Nazi swastika and union flag from protesters during the first weekend’s demonstrations sparked widespread condemnation and concern.
Contacted on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s office referred to the minister’s comments from last week: he said it was “disturbing that some are spreading the flames” and that the government was providing the police with equipment and equipment. support to ensure that the public can celebrate Canada Day safely. ,
Meanwhile, police are preparing to ensure that ensuing demonstrations do not turn into another week-long occupation of the city’s core. Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said Monday that local police have enlisted Mounties and Ontario Provincial Police for backup, and plan to provide riot squads, traffic officers and tow trucks.
Bell said they intend to prevent vehicles from parking as part of any demonstrations in the “control zone” around Parliament Hill.
One of the groups organizing events in Ottawa is Veterans for Freedom, which includes convoy spokesman Tom Marazzo on its steering committee, as well as Edward Cornell, a retired soldier who says his bank account has been closed during the protests. was given. He was denied standing in a public inquiry into the emergency act’s use in a decision by the judge leading it on Monday.
The group has not returned interview requests to the star this week.
However, in an interview on YouTube posted earlier this month, group organizer Andrew McGillivray described plans to set up a logistics center called “Camp Eagle” on private property somewhere outside Ottawa. On top of Canada Day events, including a welcome march for a man walking around Canada to condemn the vaccine mandate, McGillivray said he planned to hold events in Ottawa throughout the summer.
He also acknowledged intolerance to any calls for violence within the movement, and said his group would follow Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of peaceful protest.
Recently, some prominent members of the movement have warned their followers to avoid Mark Chilcott, a former male stripper and self-styled “inspiration speaker” known as Marcus Anthony Ray.
Ray, who was in Ottawa during the February occupation, claims to have gathered ex-military and ex-law enforcement personnel to prevent the country from “taking over” and “protecting the children”.
Ray, who goes by “Wolf” on his TikTok channel with more than 94,000 followers, has been traversing western Canada holding rallies for months. His incidents include common anti-vaccine and anti-mandate conspiracy theories, including how the World Economic Forum is taking over Canada, and his suggestion that violence may be inevitable.
“I can go out in the fire of glory holding the Canadian flag, my kids should remember this,” he told a crowd in BC in April wearing his trademark black cowboy hat and boots. He claimed he had “thousands” of former military and law enforcement officers ready.
“Everyone has gone into training and been training for weeks since Ottawa. So you have a trained group of people coming in who are going to stop it in its tracks,” he said.
In subsequent speeches and emailed newsletters, Ray said he was not advocating violence, as it would turn the police against the movement, but that his “constitutional sheriff” would defend himself.
“If we retreat that day, if we decide to back up when they (police) move on to us, which I hope they won’t, but if they do and we decide to back down.” ‘There’s no chance if (my grandson) won,’ he told a small-town Manitoba crowd on June 11.
At that rally, Ray stated that his cadre of “sheriffs” were buying equipment, including uniforms and shields. He said he intends to ask police in Ottawa to “join forces” so they can “get the Silly Socks” – the nickname he has given to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – and the provincial premier to prosecute them. .
While his rallies, which sometimes attract 100 or more people, and his large social media suggest he has an audience, it is unclear how many have attended his “sheriff” or Canada Day. What are their plans for
Still, others in the movement, including former RCMP official Danny Bulford, a key player in the February capture of Ottawa, have warned people to stay away from Ray because of his belligerent rhetoric.
In response, Ray called the groups criticizing him corrupt.
Eddie Humphrey, a hydropower activist in Manitoba, was a keen participant in the convoy protests in February. At the time, he spoke to the star pouring petrol into a parked semi from a jerry can on the street in front of Parliament.
Humphrey said on the phone Tuesday that he still supports demonstrations for “freedom” in Ottawa, even though he couldn’t make it himself. He has been busy erecting hydro poles, but expressed concern that vaccine requirements may backfire.
“It’s just getting worse,” he said. “We are the laughing stock of the world.”
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