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Trucker convoy: Okanagan politician hit the streets in Ottawa to talk to protesters

Click to play video: 'Looking at the aftermath of the nationwide ‘solidarity convoys’'
Looking at the aftermath of the nationwide ‘solidarity convoys’
Regina Police estimate around a thousand people were present at the 'solidarity convoy' at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building this past Saturday. Although, the nationwide protests strongly opposing COVID-19 mandates are drawing in large crowds, they are also attracting much controversy. Taz Dhaliwal explains – Jan 31, 2022

An Okanagan politician is sharing her experience of walking the streets of Ottawa in recent days and striking up conversations with members of the trucker convoy against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Tracy Gray, the Conservative MP for Kelowna—Lake Country, said on Facebook that she spoke with people from all walks of life — teachers, truck drivers, landscapers, construction workers and retirees — and that many were people were bringing food and handwritten notes of encouragement.

“Over half of the people I spoke with openly told me they were double vaccinated, and for many of them this was their first-ever protest, but they felt it was time Canada had a path out of this pandemic,” wrote Gray, who has said she’s against mandatory vaccines.

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“Many people were simply tired and after doing everything the government asked of them, and seeing no change. What I heard and what I saw was quite unlike the descriptions being painted by the national media.”

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Raw video shows scene on the ground at Coutts border crossing'
Trucker protests: Raw video shows scene on the ground at Coutts border crossing

The demonstration was initially aimed at denouncing vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border, but it morphed into a protest against a variety of COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

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“Of course, in any protest of tens of thousands of people, you’re going to get a few people who do and say unacceptable things — and those individuals need to be held accountable,” Gray added.

She denounced the actions of those who defaced the Terry Fox statue, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, carried symbols of hate and harassed workers at a soup kitchen.

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“But we shouldn’t let the few outweigh the message that thousands of Canadians travelled to deliver to the government,” she said.

“It’s time for the federal government to listen to Canadians, stop their divisiveness, and finally get Canada on the path of economic recovery and living with COVID-19, just as other countries are.”

Denmark, for example, scrapped most of its pandemic restrictions on Tuesday, though its prime minister said it’s too early to know if measures may have to come back.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Tory backbencher loses appointment after meeting with trucker convoy'
Manitoba Tory backbencher loses appointment after meeting with trucker convoy

Dan Albas, Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, has said he also supports the truckers because “they have kept our store shelves full” over the last two years.

“Now, like any democratic movement, there are going to be people who join on for their own pet causes, and as an elected official, I have never supported misinformation or violence as a means for achieving political ends,” he wrote.

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“However, people deserve to be heard and even if we disagree as Canadians, our system requires us to speak to one another and when we disagree to do so without being disagreeable.”

And on Jan. 26, Conservative North Okanagan MP Mel Arnold wrote that “truckers, like others, are only asking for an opportunity to continue to work as they have, safely, for the past two years without being forced into the Trudeau government’s compliance requirements. There are alternatives and choices, not ultimatums, that should be offered to anyone doing their job to serve their fellow Canadians.”

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Transport minister says Coutts blockade must disband to allow stranded truckers to go home'
Trucker protests: Transport minister says Coutts blockade must disband to allow stranded truckers to go home

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the media that “we won’t give in” to the small group of people within the protests who have incited violence, engaged in vandalism, and flown racist flags.

“To anyone who joined the convoy but is rightly uncomfortable with the symbols of hatred and division on display: join with your fellow Canadians, be courageous, and speak out,” Trudeau said.

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Said federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Facebook: “I understand — people are frustrated with the pandemic. But, the way through this is to get vaccinated and follow public health advice. It’s time for the convoy to go home.”

with files from Hannah Jackson and The Associated Press

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