Ontario Premier Doug Ford has issued a statement condemning the presence of “symbols of hate” at the trucker convoy protest in Ottawa this past weekend.
“The right to peaceful protest is core to our Canadian identity,” Ford said in the statement issued Monday.
“I was extremely disturbed, however, to see some individuals desecrate our most sacred monuments and wave swastikas and other symbols of hate and intolerance this weekend. That has no place in Ontario or Canada. Not now. Not ever.”
Huge crowds gathered around Parliament Hill in Ottawa over the weekend to protest COVID-19-related mandates and restrictions.
The trucker convoy initially began as a protest against the vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers to avoid quarantine, but expanded into a demonstration against COVID-19-related restrictions as a whole.
“Today, Ontario is beginning to ease some public health measures, the first step in returning to normal,” Ford’s statement continued.
“All Ontarians are united in their desire to put this pandemic behind us and return to the life we knew before COVID-19.”
No physical violence was reported at the demonstration over the weekend, but some incidents have sparked concerns and condemnation.
Ottawa police say criminal investigations are now underway into several incidents, including “the desecration” of the National War Memorial and the Terry Fox statue.
One truck flew a Confederate flag during Saturday’s demonstration, while other protesters misappropriated the Star of David and brandished Nazi symbols and slogans.
— with files from Hannah Jackson and The Canadian Press