Several thousand demonstrators taking part in the trucker convoy gathered outside Quebec’s National Assembly in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public-health measures on Saturday as similar demonstrations took place across the country.
Dozens of trucks parked outside the legislature with some touting signs depicting Premier François Legault as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, while others offered “free hugs from the unvaccinated.”
The area surrounding the government buildings had a heavy police presence throughout the day. Provincial police said protestors must not block roads.
On Friday Legault said he was confident the trucker protest planned in Quebec City for the weekend wouldn’t be a repeat of what has unfolded in Ottawa.
Legault said demonstrators would not be permitted to park their cars or trucks around the legislature, causing traffic chaos, adding there would be zero tolerance for impeding citizens from moving about freely as the Quebec City Winter Carnival kicked off on Friday.
“We may have benefited from the experience of what happened in Ottawa,” Legault said. “We will not at all tolerate trucks preventing citizens from circulating.”
He said tow trucks would be ready to remove heavy vehicles involved in the demonstration — inspired by an ongoing trucker protest at Parliament Hill in Ottawa that began a week ago. The protest against vaccine mandates and other pandemic measures has immobilized Ottawa’s downtown district.
The premier said none of the sitting members of the legislature agreed to meet protesters, which he said would give legitimacy and credibility to their cause.
“Yes, they can pass a message,” Legault said. “But we will not accept that they interfere in the normal life of citizens.”
Only a handful of protesters were present on Friday afternoon under the watchful eye of police. Authorities say 40 tickets were issued but no major incidents took place.
Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand said the protesters and trucks that arrived noisily in the city late Thursday were respectful. He called on them to remain that way.