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Saskatchewan MPs respond to criticism over Ottawa truck protest photo

Trucks are blocked by police barricades as a rally against COVID-19 restrictions, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers continues in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. Ottawa police have made two arrests following demonstration-related investigations, as the anti-vaccine mandate protest continues to keep the capital at a standstill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle. PD

Some Saskatchewan Members of Parliament are taking criticism from the mayor of Ottawa because of a picture posted on Twitter.

MP Kevin Waugh of Saskatoon-Grasswood posted a picture of himself along with Saskatchewan MPs Warren Steinley, Andrew Scheer, Fraser Tolmie, Rosemarie Falk, and Senator Denise Batters in Ottawa expressing their appreciation for truck drivers.

But Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson replied saying the tweet “is an absolute disgrace that you would come out & praise this illegal action” and demanded an apology.

Read more: Ottawa mayor calls Conservative MPs support of protest ‘an absolute disgrace’

“I have nothing to apologize for. I will always meet with people from Saskatchewan and my constituency,” said Warren Steinley, MP for Regina-Lewvan.

As the former mayor of Moose Jaw, MP Fraser Tolmie has insight on the position Mayor Watson is in.

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“I understand as being a former mayor that he does have challenges. But the reason that myself and my fellow colleagues were out there is because we were speaking to our constituents, and I spend six months of my time here in Ottawa and when someone makes the effort to come out to Ottawa, then I have in my duty and my obligation to those constituents to hear them and have a conversation with them and I’m not going to apologize about that.”

Click to play video: 'Toronto mayor says City is preparing for ‘possible convoy protest’ at Queens Park Saturday' Toronto mayor says City is preparing for ‘possible convoy protest’ at Queens Park Saturday
Toronto mayor says City is preparing for ‘possible convoy protest’ at Queens Park Saturday – Feb 3, 2022

MP Rosemarie Falk, who represents Battlefords-Lloydminster, echoed the sentiment of her colleagues.

“I reject the assertion that I, as a Member of Parliament, should not take the time to meet and listen to Saskatchewanians who are protesting peacefully and have come all this way to be heard,” Falk said in a statement to Global News.

“The Mayor of Ottawa should instead call on the Prime Minister to step up and help bring a resolve to the ongoing protests. Premier Scott Moe’s recent announcements have done more to bring resolve to the protest than the Prime Minister who has only disparaged and dismissed the serious concerns and frustrations of those demonstrating.”

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Read more: ‘Just sickening’: Backlash after Terry Fox statue ‘appropriated’ at Ottawa trucker rally

Tolmie said he is concerned about the number of people speaking in absolutes regarding the convoy protest.

“These truckers have come here with a message that they want to be heard and that we need to open dialogue. Right now what’s happening is a lot of social media messages coming out and speaking in absolutes, writing off truckers, supporting truckers, and really it’s a lot of white noise,” Tolmie said.

“We need to get on the ground and hear what they have to say and what they have to share.”

Click to play video: 'Trucker protest spokesperson says he has ‘very reliable information’ that nobody associated with the protest has been arrested' Trucker protest spokesperson says he has ‘very reliable information’ that nobody associated with the protest has been arrested
Trucker protest spokesperson says he has ‘very reliable information’ that nobody associated with the protest has been arrested – Feb 3, 2022

Tolmie suggested that Mayor Watson has the opportunity to contact and communicate directly with the Saskatchewan caucus instead of using social media. He says this protest in Ottawa is part of democracy.

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“Democracy is sometimes messy and it’s messy because we have to overcome our own thoughts and listen to what someone else has to say and we might not agree, but that is what we have to do,” Tolmie said.

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