Several thousand drivers and supporters have blocked parts of downtown Ottawa for a week. Now the protests have also spread to Toronto and Quebec.
The protesters believe that the government’s rules for entry are too strict.
If you are going from the USA to Canada, a vaccine pass is required. If you do not have it, you will have to be quarantined for 14 days.
The protests were initially led by professional drivers who are dependent on crossing the border, and have now spread to a general protest against coronary restrictions.
– The protesters in Ottawa have made their point. The whole country has heard it. Now is the time to go home and get involved politically, says Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, according to Reuters.
Police have warned that the cars will be moved, but have not yet taken action.
– This is a siege. It is a threat to democracy. It’s a nationwide uprising, it’s madness, says Peter Sloly, chief of the Ottawa police.
– We do not have sufficient resources to handle this situation in an efficient manner while maintaining other police work, he says.
200-250 trucks and lorries have been in downtown Ottawa throughout the week, according to New York Times.
The police have deployed 150 extra police officers and set up roadblocks.
Asks the authorities to stop the action
In the capital Ottawa, where it has been below 20 degrees in the evening and at night, people have gathered around barbecues and in makeshift saunas.
Many bring their whole family with them. While children have enjoyed themselves in inflatable bouncy castles, the adults have waved Canadian flags and shouted slogans against the authorities.
The protesters have shouted “freedom”, but there have also been counter-protesters shouting “go home”.
The protests have been largely peaceful, but Ottawa residents are starting to get fed up with noise and blocked roads.
City Councilor Catherine McKenney has asked the Prime Minister to intervene.
“Residents living in downtown Ottawa are experiencing unparalleled violence and riots at home in their own streets,” she wrote in a letter to Justin Trudeau last week.
– I have received hundreds of emails from people who tell stories like this: “I was going out to buy food, I was called for, I was harassed. I was followed down the street, I’m so scared I dare not go out, “said City Councilor Catherine McKenney according to New York Times.
Trudeau has replied that they will not deploy the military to remove the protesters, something the police have previously suggested.
Ottawa police say they have received 400 calls about the demonstration, started investigating 50 cases and that four people have been charged. The FBI also investigates threats against individuals.
Police chief Sloly says he and other leaders have received death threats, he writes Guardian.
Spread to Toronto and Quebec
The number who participated in the protests has varied throughout the week. According to the Ottawa police, around 5,000 people took part in the protests over the weekend, led by truck drivers and 300 counter-protesters.
In Toronto and Quebec, there were several hundred, writes Reuters.
– I will stay here as long as needed, says Corey Ley, who has driven 130 km with his wife, two children and two friends to participate in the demonstration in Toronto.
He says they have packed a lot of food to be able to stay long. He believes vaccines and the use of sanitary napkins must be optional.
Around 500 health workers and supporters gathered for a counter-demonstration in Toronto.
Around NOK 70 million is said to have been collected via the GoFundMe platform.
On Friday, the company stopped this fundraiser.
– We have evidence from the police that the former peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with reports of violence and other illegal activity, GoFundMe writes in a statement.