Saturday, May 21, 2022

Truckers’ ‘freedom convoy’ set to rally at Parliament Hill

The remainder of the convoy of truckers and other activists opposed to the cross-border vaccine mandates is set to roll into Ottawa on Saturday in time for a rally on Parliament Hill.

For the past week, several teams of truckers and supporters across the country have been making their way to the nation’s capital as part of the “freedom convoy,” raising more than $7 million on GoFundMe along the way. Some convoy participants have already been in the city since Friday, lining the streets and waving flags in front of the Hill.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly is encouraging city residents to avoid the downtown area. Police are anticipating “significant traffic delays and disruptions” along several downtown streets. MPs and government staff have been advised to avoid the parliamentary precinct this weekend.

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Police have said that they do not have a confirmed number of demonstrators, but are preparing for a few thousand attendees. The Parliamentary Protective Service is also anticipating up to 10,000 demonstrators.

Some trucking industry leaders have raised concerns over the escalating rhetoric coming out of the convoy, as well as fringe groups attaching themselves to the movement. One group involved in the convoy known as “Canada Unity” wants to see the Senate and Governor General unilaterally overturn the federal vaccine mandates – something that is legally impossible.

Ottawa police have also said they’ve received a “direct threat” to the safety of their officers from a counter-protest source and are aware of “other groups and individuals” who may not “share the same peaceful goals.”

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Sloly said interactions with the convoy’s organizers have been “productive and co-operative” and police are prepared to investigate, arrest, charge, and prosecute anyone committing violent acts or breaking the law.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Friday met with some participants of the convoy and said he supports the truckers’ “right to be heard.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the “unacceptable views” of the “small fringe minority” among some of those who are supporting the trucker protest and has expressed concerns the protests could be violent.

With files from CTV News Ottawa and CTVNews.ca’s Rachel Aiello.

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