'Freedom convoy' protests spread across Canada
Canadian officials express shock that the protests are getting out of hand.
“Amazingly, this isn’t just Ottawa. It’s the nation’s capital,” Catherine McKenna, a former cabinet minister, tweeted. “But no one – not the city, the province or the federal government can seem to get their act together to end this illegal occupation. It’s appalling … Just get your act together. Now.”
Though some anti-vax protesters on the US-Canadian border drove some of the vehicles blocking the trade route away on Saturday, demonstrations in the capital, Ottawa, and beyond only seemed to increase.
While the Ottawa police released a statement, calling what is happening in the capital an 'illegal occupation,' other public and official figures expressing disappointment and demanding 'respect for the monuments.'
Saturday evening, police arrested their first protestor who was blocking the Ambassador Bridge which links Detroit to Ontario.
In a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and special advisors, Trudeau affirmed that the corridor will not and could not stay closed for long, putting 'all options' on the table.
Over the past weekends, protestors have increased to thousands, and have created a ripple effect. Similar protests in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands - and possibly soon in the United States - have been ongoing.
Federal and provincial leaders and officials said they cannot order police what to do to contain the protests.
Jim Watson, an Ottawa mayor, declared a state of emergency last week. Hundreds of trucks parked in front of the parliament buildings with portable toilets set up just outside Trudeau's office, where his motorcade usually is.
Canadian police on Saturday said they're waiting for "reinforcements" before completely deterring the demonstrators, calling the demonstrations an 'illegal occupation.'
“Demonstrators exhibited aggressive behavior towards law enforcement, including refusing to follow directions, overwhelming officers and otherwise subverting enforcement efforts,” police said, according to CBC.
Before the police moved forward, Daniel Koss, one of the protestors, said that the demonstrations were successful in shedding light on their demands, which are to lift COVID-19 mandates, expressing 'happiness' that the protests were peaceful and remained so.
“It’s a win-win,” Koss said. “The pandemic is rolling down right now, they can remove the mandates, all the mandates, and everyone’s happy. The government does the right thing, and the protesters are all happy.”
A day before, a Canadian judge ruled that the blockade end, in addition to a premier issuing that a breach in the state of emergency declared will result in fines up to $100,000, and up to 1 year in jail for anyone blocking roads, bridges, walkways and more.
“The illegal blockades are impacting trade, supply chains & manufacturing. They’re hurting Canadian families, workers & businesses. Glad to see the Windsor Police & its policing partners commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge,” federal innovation minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a tweet Saturday. “These blockades must stop."
About 25% of Canadian-US trade is carried through the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing between the two nations. Auto plants between both sides were forced to shut down and halt car production.
“We want the right to choose,” Stephanie Ravensbergen, a protestor, said. “We want the right to be able to do what everybody else can do.”