Ottawa set for ‘massive’ protest against Canada’s vaccine mandates

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” – coming from east
and west – started out as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border
truckers, but has turned into a demonstration against government overreach
during the pandemic with a strong anti-vax streak.

The convoys are scheduled to get in around noon, but already
on Friday dozens of vehicles blocked the roads in front of parliament. A total
of some 2,700 trucks are expected, a federal government source said.

“These demonstrations are national in scope, they’re
massive in scale,” Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said on Friday.
“We do not know all of the parallel demonstrations that may occur and
where the lone wolf individuals who may insert themselves into the mix for
various reasons.”

Sloly added that teams will be video taping “all
aspects of the demonstration” and warned that anyone breaking the law will
be arrested.

Trudeau on Friday said he was concerned about the protest
turning violent in an interview with the Canadian Press, and said this week the
convoy represented a “small fringe minority” who “do not
represent the views of Canadians.”

Trudeau announced a vaccine mandate for federal workers in
October on the eve of the election, and then last month both Canada and the
United States imposed one for cross-border truckers.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole opposes vaccine mandates
and has expressed support for the protest, pledging to meet some truckers and
posting a video on social media blaming Trudeau for potential supply chain
problems the trucker mandate may cause.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents some 4,500
carries, opposes the protest, saying this is “not how disagreement with
government policies should be expressed.” About 90% of Canada’s
cross-border truckers and 77% of the population has had two shots.

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