The so-called “Freedom Convoy” trucker protest that has been gaining steam and headlines over the last week reached Canada’s capital Friday, with a multi-day demonstration expected to grind official Ottawa’s business to a halt.
Big rigs lined Wellington Street Friday evening – a portend of protesters to come, united by a vague message of ending COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures after almost two full years of pandemic precautions.
About 100 vehicles, mostly trucks, were parked peacefully Saturday morning over three blocks on Wellington Street outside of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, in Ottawa’s downtown core.
Ottawa police and the Parliamentary Protective Service – as well as federal law enforcement and national security agencies – are expected to be at heightened alert as thousands of protesters converge on Parliament Hill.
“With demonstrations of this scale, there are significant risks to be mitigated, but that we cannot fully eliminate,” Ottawa Police Services Chief Peter Sloly told reporters Friday.
The demonstration is expected to continue through Saturday and Sunday, but Sloly – despite being in contact with the main organizers – could not say how long the protesters are expected to stay. Some have suggested they will not leave until all COVID-19 vaccine mandates are rescinded, something that has virtually no chance of actually happening as Canada continues to grapple with the Omicron wave.
Organizers have committed to a peaceful protest. But white nationalist and extremist characters have attached themselves to the convoy’s mission, and have been live broadcasting both support and participation in the movement.
What started as a protest ostensibly about cross-border trucking has morphed into a nationwide social and political debate. Global News will be covering the protest – online and over radio and broadcast – throughout. Check back here for updates throughout.