Anti-vaccine activists in Canada have transformed into a “lawless occupation” after their demonstrations and rallies, according to the province’s Minister of Health. The group is protesting against plans by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., which manufactures two vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) that it says cause autism.
The “ottawa protest” is a Canadian city that has been struggling with an occupation.
OTTAWA— To put a stop to a weeklong protest over vaccination requirements that has caused businesses to shut, frazzled citizens’ emotions, and constricted parts of the city’s centre, police in the Canadian capital are considering military assistance or a court order.
Truckers and their sympathizers have conducted demonstrations that have congested Ottawa traffic and affected residents’ everyday lives. Police indicated last week that their information suggests that tens of thousands of trucks and citizens are expected to arrive in Ottawa this weekend. The protest, which started on January 28, has turned into an occupation, according to city officials.
“Everyone agrees that this occupation of our city must come to an end,” said Laura Dudas, deputy mayor of Ottawa.
The likelihood of additional demonstrators this weekend is likely to agitate locals who are caught in the heart of a dispute about how to limit Covid-19 and urge immunization. Because of the plague, Louise Pitre, who works from home, said she took refuge in a closet to avoid the constant screaming of air horns from scores of parked trucks on main routes.
“I’m having trouble concentrating,” she said.
The activists in Ottawa are protesting Canada and the United States’ decision to prohibit unvaccinated truckers from entering their respective nations.
Adrian Wyld/Associated Press/The Canadian Press
Dustin Carey said that anti-mask demonstrators harassed him while he was out conducting errands.
“I didn’t want to make things worse, so I tried to ignore it,” he said. “However, the folks who reside downtown are reaching a breaking point.”
The city’s main downtown retail center will be closed until Monday, while local immunization clinics will be closed for a few days. Protesters allegedly harassed officials and volunteers at a downtown homeless shelter in exchange for a meal from its soup kitchen.
Authorities are concerned that protest organizers—who call their demonstration “Freedom Convoy 2022″—are benefiting from expertise and fundraising on a national and international level, including in the United States, according to Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, who declined to elaborate at a press conference. So far, contributions on the crowdsourcing website GoFundMe have garnered more than $10 million for protest organizers.
Protesters are also in possession of guns and other weapons, according to Chief Sloly, complicating police attempts. One demonstrator was detained and charged with a weapon-related offense by Ottawa police on Tuesday.
At a press conference on Thursday, neither Tamara Lich, a spokesperson for Freedom Convoy, nor a lawyer representing protest organizers answered to a reporter’s inquiries concerning Chief Sloly’s assertions. Ms. Lich informed reporters that the demonstration would continue until Covid-19 limitations and vaccination requirements were removed at all levels of government.
“The longer this protest goes on, the greater the danger to public safety,” Chief Sloly warned municipal leaders on Wednesday. “Every possibility for resolving this demonstration is on the table.” This protest, however, may not have a police answer.”
Some demonstrators expressed compassion for the inhabitants of the area, but they are in Ottawa because governments “refuse to listen to citizens.”
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/lars Hagberg
Obtaining a court order to have the demonstrators removed and asking assistance from Canada’s military forces are among the possibilities being discussed, he added. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada stated on Thursday that he has not received a request for military assistance. The Canadian government decided late Thursday night to send more police from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to help local law enforcement.
Chief Sloly vowed a beefed-up police presence this weekend during a Friday press conference, with officers directed to enforce all laws pertaining to hatred, harassment, and assaults, among other things. To reinforce the demonstrators’ numbers, police estimate up to 400 extra vehicles and thousands of civilians to attempt to reach Ottawa. “I have a lot of sympathy for individuals who have had their rights to live, raise their families, and do business in the city violated in intolerable ways,” he added.
Mr. Trudeau had earlier this week described the conduct of some protestors as “shocking and simply disgusting,” noting intimidation of homeless shelter personnel, vandalism of the National War Memorial, and the sight of a Confederate flag and a banner with swastikas. Mr. Trudeau also said that he would not move on the Covid-19 requirements since he was re-elected last autumn on a promise to make immunization obligatory for government employees, other workers in the private sector, and anyone who travel by air or rail.
Tyler Chiliak, one of the demonstrators, expressed sorrow for Ottawa citizens. Mr. Chiliak, a farmer from western Canada who travelled 1,800 miles in a pickup truck with a camper attached to join the demonstration, said, “They’re suffering the effects of having a multiplicity of rather unhappy individuals sitting here with some very noisy instruments, notably train horns and air horns.” He’s in Ottawa because governments have “become a little harsh and authoritarian” with Covid-19 rules, and “refuse to listen to people,” he added.
Hundreds of motorists have parked their cars in downtown Ottawa, either in front of the country’s main parliamentary building or along major north-south highways. People meandered around on the street and sidewalks holding banners and waving flags, while cars honked car and train horns and revved their engines during a recent visit to the protest location. Large cargo trucks, as well as smaller cars painted with Canada flags, have been a familiar sight in surrounding residential communities for many days.
To pass the time, truckers and their supporters played street hockey on Wellington Street in Ottawa.
PATRICK DOYLE/Associated Press/The Canadian Press
Demonstrators in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa were given free refreshments.
BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS/BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS/BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS/BL
Other trucker demonstrations are erupting around the nation in reaction to Canada and the United States’ decision last month to prohibit unvaccinated truckers from entering their countries. Truckers were deemed essential employees prior to January and were permitted to cross the border with products, whereas nonessential travel was prohibited. The trucking industry’s major trade group has distanced itself from the protest, claiming that roughly 90% of drivers are properly vaccinated.
Ms. Lich added at a press conference that the demonstrators in Ottawa “are ordinary, peace-loving, law-abiding folks from all walks of life who are fed up with our governments’ contempt and bullying.” She said that she intended to reassure Ottawa citizens that the protestors “would not remain a single day longer than was absolutely required.” Our exit will be contingent on the prime minister acting in the best interests of the country.”
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Donald Shultz, 72, claimed he fell in his downtown Ottawa apartment Tuesday night and hit his head on the floor. He claims he should have called an ambulance since he takes blood thinners and has other health issues. He stated he didn’t because he was afraid paramedics wouldn’t be able to find his building.
Mr. Shultz, who was a few streets away from his building and using a walker, added, “I’m getting freaked out.” Personal-care employees who come to clean and wash him have had trouble getting to his house, he added. “I’m ready for this to be over.”
Since the demonstrators came, Celeste Côté, a government employee, has had difficulties sleeping. “There’s a lot of talk going around about how persistent loudness is a type of torture that’s been used to break individuals.” “I believe it,” Ms. Côté remarked as she stood outside her downtown apartment building. “It’s basically a never-ending cycle.” There’s no way out.”
Officers issued eight complaints for excessive noise on Wednesday, according to Ottawa police.
Ms. Lich and Keith Wilson, a lawyer for the Freedom Convoy organizers, both stated on Thursday that the $10 million received so far via GoFundMe will ultimately be distributed to truckers taking part in the demonstration to cover costs like gasoline.
Trucks and other vehicles belonging to protesters were parked near a parkway going into downtown Ottawa.
Adrian Wyld/Associated Press/The Canadian Press
Paul Vieira can be reached at [email protected]
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