Ottawa, the Canadian capital, has been the scene of a large protest movement since this weekend, initiated by truckers opposing the obligation to vaccinate to cross the Canada-US land border, the longest in the world. But many supporters of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” movement, which more broadly oppose health restrictions as a whole, converged on Ottawa to support the truckers, who came in convoys from across the country.
If after two days of show of force, many demonstrators left the capital on the morning of Sunday January 30 to return home, many diehards remained in Ottawa, plunging the capital “in a strange nightmare, a dragging, infernal traffic jam” describes Radio Canada. This conflict is likely to be a long-term one, as the city police indicated in a press release that their resources were already “under pressure and fully occupied” this Sunday.
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In solidarity, truckers yesterday carried out a “complete blockage” of Highway 4 in southern Alberta, a western state near the border, a major artery for moving goods between Canada and the United States. “The entry point (border post) is currently open but, in reality, no one can cross it from the north side unless on foot”explained to AFP Curtis Peters, spokesman for the RCMP, the federal police, in Alberta, who estimated that at least a hundred trucks were blocking the highway.
In the capital, the police opened “several criminal investigations” in connection with the desecration of national monuments, behavior “threatening, illegal and intimidating” in particular against police officers, and also for vandalism on a municipal vehicle. “I am appalled to see protesters dancing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrating the National War Memorial”tweeted Chief of the National Defense Staff Wayne Eyre, adding that “those involved should be ashamed”. To limit the damage, barricades were installed on Sunday to block access for trucks and vehicles to the passage leading to the monument. The truckers then tried to cross these barricades on multiple occasions, according to Canadian media.
Ottawa Police have confirmed cars parked on the grounds of the national Cenotaph have been removed. Parking on this sacred ground that includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sign of complete disrespect.
—Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) January 29, 2022
To describe the atmosphere of the weekend, Radio Canada evokes a “palpable, disturbing, noisy and fragrant tension” on the sidelines of this second day. The mobilization could continue for a while in Ottawa since truckers, some of whom have come from as far away as British Columbia, thousands of kilometers from the capital, intend to demonstrate for several days.
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But the mayor of the capital Jim Watson estimated in an interview with Radio Canada that it was time for the demonstrators to ” move on “ so that Ottawa can return to normality. “Honestly, (residents) feel like prisoners in their own homes”, he noted. On Twitter, he denounced the behavior “threatening” of certain demonstrators, in particular towards the media. “Stop bullying techniques and be respectful to your fellow citizens”he launched.