The protest by the “Freedom Convoy” against a vaccine mandate has forced Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to declare declared a state of emergency on Sunday.
The protest by the Freedom convoy has blocked much of the center of the Canadian capital. The protesters, who first reached the capital on January 29, have parked their trucks on city streets and put up tents and temporary shacks, paralyzing the capital.
I’ve never seen anything like this. Today marks the 8th straight day of protesting on parliament hill, and the crowd is bigger than ever. #TruckersForFreedom2022 https://t.co/8hpC710hZK pic.twitter.com/DMRAqh1rr4
— Lincoln Jay (@lincolnmjay) February 5, 2022
“(This) reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” Watson said in a statement on Sunday.
Freedom convoy protest in Ottawa against vaccine mandate
The protests began by truck drivers angry with the vaccine mandate for crossing the US-Canada border but have evolved into broader protests against COVID-19 health restrictions and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Ottawa police warned on Sunday that anyone attempting to bring material support to the demonstrators would be subject to arrest.
In case you’re wondering why #centretown residents and the rest of urban Ottawa are losing our minds…my watch was showing dB readings hitting 105 dB at Bank & Queen. This occupation has ZERO sympathy from us anymore. #OttawaOccupation #GoHomeConvoy #ottcity pic.twitter.com/6aWZXYTN2H
— Sean Flynn (@sfyro) February 6, 2022
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on Sunday that the government would not back down on the issue.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the  election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said on CBC television.
“This group [the Freedom convoy] is a threat to our democracy,” City Council Member Diane Deans said of the protesters on Saturday. “What we’re seeing is bigger than just a City of Ottawa problem, this is a nationwide insurrection. This is madness.”
Protestors yelling at contingent of Ottawa Police and OPP pic.twitter.com/9wVp3AAu4h
— Judy Trinh (@judyatrinh) February 7, 2022
The Freedom convoy’s protest has attracted support from many Republicans south of the border, including former President Donald Trump, and found financial support through GoFundMe.
“Canada-US relations used to be mainly about solving technical issues. Today Canada is, unfortunately, experiencing radical US politicians involving themselves in Canadian domestic issues. Trump and his followers are a threat not just to the US but to all democracies,” Bruce Heyman, a former ambassador to Canada under President Barack Obama, tweeted.
Heyman said: “Under no circumstances should any group in the USA fund disruptive activities in Canada. Period. Full stop.”
There have been similar demonstrations against the vaccine mandate in the cities of Toronto, Quebec City, and Winnipeg.
Austria imposes strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate
Austria became on Saturday the first western democracy to impose a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate for almost all its population.
The new measure, adopted on January 20 by Parliament, was signed into law by President Alexander Van der Bellen on Friday, the culmination of a process that began in November in the face of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.