Canadian Freedom Convoy vows to stay in Ottawa until government reverses vaccine mandates
For a second day, a ‘Freedom Convoy’ of trucks joined by thousands of demonstrators has brought Ottawa to a virtual standstill as they protest Canada’s vaccine mandates. And they ain’t going anywhere unless vaccine mandates ae reversed.
The truckers are protesting a vaccine mandate for their industry brought in on January 15, which means that unvaccinated Canadian drivers returning to their homeland must take a COVID test before crossing the US-Canada border, and quarantine on arrival.
Unvaccinated Canadian drivers cannot now enter the United States, and unvaccinated American drivers cannot enter Canada, after previous exemptions expired.
Trudeau called the truckers headed for the city a ‘small fringe minority’ before fleeing to a secret location.
The movement received an endorsement on Thursday from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, ‘Canadian truckers rule’.
Truckers from the US – who are only allowed into Canada if they are vaccinated – have also joined the massive convoy.
The truckers say there is no ‘end date’ in sight and plan to stay in the capital ‘for as long as it takes’ and until the Canadian government flips and withdraws its policy on vaccine mandates.
‘Right now, yeah, it’s really cold, but we hang in there, the days are going to get longer and we take this block party and put it into overdrive,’ BJ Dichter, one of the organizers of the Freedom Convoy, said at a press conference. ‘We’re in this one for the long haul. We don’t have a time limit.’
The protest originated last week in western Canada, where truckers organized a convoy to drive from Vancouver to the Canadian capital to demonstrate against Covid-related restrictions, particularly a recent vaccination requirement for truck drivers crossing the long US-Canada border.
Multiple convoys began arriving in Ottawa on Friday and were joined by thousands of other people in support.
In solidarity with the convergence on Ottawa, truckers on Sunday staged what police described as a ‘complete blockage’ of Highway 4 in Canada’s western Alberta province along the US border. The road is a major artery for commercial goods between the nations.
‘As of right now… the port of entry remains open technically speaking, however, nobody would be able to get to them except on foot,’ Curtis Peters, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta said, noting that some 100 trucks were blocking the roadway.
With protesters gathering, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were moved Saturday to an undisclosed location in Ottawa, Canadian media reported.
Canada has enacted some of the most strict COVID-19 protocols worldwide.
Ontario only closed its restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters early this month, and will only reopen them at the beginning of February.
Vaccinations were mandated for federal workers last year, and the premier of Quebec announced plans to penalize unvaccinated residents that don’t have a medical reason not to get the shot.
Convoy heads to Canberra to protest against Covid vaccine mandates
Justin Trudeau and his family flee Canadian capital as thousands arrive at his office