A photo of a sign outside a Home Hardware in Strathroy, Ont., west of London, has been shared hundreds of times online after the message was changed to express support for the controversial trucker convoy.
On Feb. 2, the sign read, “We support the truckers — end the mandates.” The message was changed the following day, returning to the typical signage announcing store deals or other shopping information.
Global News has requested comment from the owner of the Strathroy location but had yet to hear back by publication time.
Home Hardware headquarters in St. Jacobs, Ont., provided a brief statement Thursday afternoon.
“The health and safety of our Dealers, staff and the communities we serve has always been our top priority,” said an email from Home Hardware Stores Limited.
“The global pandemic has created a number of complex challenges that Canadians and people around the world continue to navigate. As a national home improvement retailer, our primary focus is on providing our customers with the essential products and services they rely on us for.”
Home Hardware Stores Limited did not detail whether the Strathroy location’s messaging contravened company policy or whether the owner would face any repercussions over the signage.
The truck convoy has occupied downtown streets in Ottawa since the weekend.
Initially, the protest began in response to a federal rule that all Canadian truckers crossing the United States border would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid a two-week quarantine. The U.S. also has its own vaccine mandate for truckers.
However, the purpose has become increasingly muddied. Organizers were found to have made hateful comments and one had ties to a hate group. Some participants extended the goal to an end to all public health mandates. Some have called for Trudeau to resign.
Since the convoy arrived in Ottawa last weekend, some participants have also been accused of harassing residents, bothering Ottawa businesses, and displaying Nazi and Confederate flags.
Meanwhile, preparations are being made in Toronto ahead of a possible convoy protest there over the weekend.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement Thursday that the city “must do everything we can to avoid the type of situation currently faced by Ottawa residents.”
A poster online titled “Convoy for Freedom Toronto” lists several meet-up locations, most at GTA malls, to head to Queen’s Park for noon on Saturday.
— with files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore and Gabby Rodrigues