Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Police warn of slowdown in traffic as trucking convoy approaches Ottawa

The Ontario Provincial Police tweeted that there could be a slowdown on all highways in eastern Ontario between Thursday and Saturday.

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Police warned on Wednesday that a convoy of commercial truck drivers headed to Ottawa to protest a vaccine mandate could hit the city’s main town.

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Describing the rolling protest as a “very fluid situation”, Chief Peter Slowley said Ottawans should refrain from traveling to the city when truckers arrive, possibly as early as Friday. The whole weekend may continue for a long time.

“If you don’t need to travel to the core for business or for essentials, groceries, the doctor, that sort of thing, avoid it if you can relieve those clogged arteries in and around the downtown core. are,” said Slowley.

Police were monitoring the oncoming convoy and talking to the organizers of the main protest. At Wednesday’s special meeting of the Ottawa Police Service Board, OPS officers said they were planning to have about 1,000 to 2,000 vehicles. But police warned that protests could be accompanied by other elements, including counter-protests, that are harder to predict.

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“There are an increasing number of other interested parties who are actually considering coming to the nation’s capital and participating in a series of related demonstrations and in some cases counter-demonstrations,” said Slole.

The OPS will evaluate the risk associated with any road blockage that trucking convoys may create, Sloughly said, indicating that the service will not tolerate obstructions that block access to critical public infrastructure.

Current police intelligence indicates the main protest, the “Freedom Convoy”, has so far been peaceful and cooperative with police and city officials in other jurisdictions. Slowley said, “We have no risk information to suggest that people or business owners need to close themselves in their homes or businesses or that they should close their businesses if they are working.” need to.”

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The truckers have indicated that their destination will be Parliament Hill, where they will protest the vaccine mandate. The Parliamentary Security Service said in a statement that it was aware of the protests and was monitoring the situation closely.

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Several councilors expressed concerns about the potential impact of the protests on local residents and businesses to police at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m actually on Facebook of some convoy they’re talking about ‘until they resign,’ ‘permanent gridlock zones around Ottawa.’ It’s just not your regular protest in town. People are worried ,” said Somerset Ward Councilor Katherine McKennie.

In an earlier statement posted on its website, McKennie said that many members of the group bound for Ottawa were affiliated with “terrorist racist, sexist and homophobic groups.”

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“They are not only here to raise their voice against the vaccination mandate, but also to spread hatred against the fabric of our society,” the statement said.

Acting OPS deputy chief Trish Ferguson said law and police officers would be in the area and available to local businesses. He added that the police would “emphasize proactive engagement through police liaison teams to facilitate communication, de-escalation and peaceful resolution to escalating incidents.”

Ontario Provincial Police warned that the convoy could cause a slowdown on all highways in eastern Ontario beginning Thursday.

OPP spokesman Bill Dixon said in an email that OPP officials were preparing for the impact of the protest. “We are advising the public that the protest activities may hamper the normal flow of traffic,” he said. “OPP is working with those involved to minimize the impact on the traveling public and to ensure order and public safety. This includes talking to organizers to ensure that public/traffic safety orders are met and events/activities are orderly and peaceful.”

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Most of the truckers will arrive in Ottawa on Saturday, according to the countdown to their arrival posted on the website canada-unity.com. According to the website, there are different convoys headed to the capital, with trucks in both western and eastern Canada.

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Organizers have posted social media updates showing a long stream of commercial vehicles, many of them adorned with Canadian flags, signage opposing the vaccine and abusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is not clear how many commercial vehicles are in the convoy.

Canada implemented a vaccine mandate for the trucking industry earlier this month. Unaffiliated Canadian truck drivers re-entering Canada from the United States must be tested for COVID-19 and quarantined. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition have both called on the government to reverse its policy, warning of supply chain disruptions.

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The Canadian Trucking Alliance has issued a statement refuting the protests, saying the vast majority of Canada’s trucking industry has been vaccinated.

The organizers of the convoy said in a message posted on the Instagram account “Freedom Convoy22” that they were not against vaccination. “Many of us are vaccinated,” the message read. “We simply believe that every Canadian should be free to choose any discrimination or restriction on their liberty because of their choice.”

The statement also emphasized that truckers would not stop emergency vehicles.

The newspaper reached out to the organizers of the protest but did not get revert.

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Nation World News Desk
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