Ottawa is preparing for the storm, not climatic but popular. Nearly 2,000 trucks are expected in the Canadian capital this Saturday, January 29, after a journey that started last Sunday. They plan to block Parliament to denounce the obligation to vaccinate truckers in order to cross the border with the United States as well as the essential health measures.
The demonstrators will meet tomorrow and will concretely launch the movement on Monday, January 31. ” This will be the first day of work for Ottawa and for us freedom fighters and Canadians across the country. And we expect a lot of people “, announced Jason LaFace, one of the figures of the protest and organizer of other movements within the framework of the demonstrations “No More Lockdowns” (more confinements).
The “Freedom Convoy” is supported by Elon Musk who tweeted “ Long live Canadian truckers “. The movement has also received backing from Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, who is calling on Americans to follow suit.
The end of the exemption from compulsory vaccination on January 15th set things on fire. Since that date, unvaccinated drivers must submit to 14 days of isolation upon their return to the country and take a screening test. But the claims go further. They demand the end of the vaccine passport, the end of fines linked to health restrictions and the reinstatement of those who have lost their jobs for not having complied with the rules since the start of the pandemic. Canada Unity, at the origin of the call to demonstrate, considers that these measures are ” unconstitutional, discriminatory and segregative “.
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Projections, not sourced, evoke a convoy of 50,000 trucks from the four corners of the country as well as the United States. According to Benjamin Dichter, spokesman for the “Convoy for Freedom”, the latter would already be 70 km long. If the line holds, the Canadians will break the world truck convoy record ever recorded. The last had 480 vehicles for 7.5 km in Egypt on November 20, 2020.
The convoy intends to win its case. This Monday, a stage will be set up in a city park with various speakers whose identities are still unknown. From then on, demonstrations will take place every day until they receive a response from the government.
One ” memorandum of understanding “, published on the site of Canada Unity calls for the formation of a coalition with the Senate and the governor general of the country, Mary Simon, in order to outflank the government of Justin Trudeau. For the demonstrators, the leaders must ” must uphold and enforce all Canadian and international human rights laws “, Where ” immediately resign from their positions “.
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Tim Coderre, one of the organizers, in charge of logistics, announced that the duration of the blockage will depend on the responses provided by the federal government. He says he is ready to stay, if necessary, as long as necessary to get the demands accepted.
and the authorities concerned
For its part, the government is trying to minimize the movement. A ” small marginal minority ” with ” unacceptable opinions “, denounced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, this Wednesday, January 26. Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport adds and says to himself ” concerned about the small number of far-right opponents who pollute much of our political debate “.
But, behind these attacks, hides the fear of a vast event that descends into violence. Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino raised the specter of a ” violent attempt to overthrow the government “, and calls for ” do not view protesters as mere freedom fighters “.
Among the figures of the movement, we find Patrick King, known for his provocations to violence against anti-fascist movements. He is also co-founder of the Maverick party, independentist and classified on the far right. Jason LaFace is known for his anti Black Lives Matter positions. According to the Canadian press, a video on YouTube, since removed, made a call to imitate the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump.
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Ottawa security forces are expecting nearly 10,000 protesters. On Twitter, they claimed to do ” welcome to peaceful protests “but foresee” consequences for those who engage in criminal acts, violence and activities promoting hatred “. In a message sent to MPs on Thursday, Patrick McDonell, the House of Commons security officer, warned that protesters were trying to find their home addresses. He invites them to barricade themselves if ever their homes and offices are targeted.
We welcome peaceful protests. That said, public safety is paramount – there will be consequences for those who engage in criminal acts, violence and activities that promote hatred. #ottawa (2/2)
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) January 27, 2022
The organizers defend themselves from any attempt at violence. In a Facebook video, Maverick Party Secretary Tamara Lich asked law enforcement flaggers who “ misbehave or incite any type of violence or hatred “. Despite the -9° forecast for Monday, the atmosphere will be warm in Ottawa.