Truck drivers’ Covid protest puts Ottawa in state of emergency

Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency for Covid trucker protest (Photo: NBC)

The mayor of Canada’s capital declared a state of emergency Sunday to deal with an unprecedented protest that has seen truckers shut down Ottawa’s core for more than a week over Covid-19 rules.

Dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” the demonstration has seen hundreds of truckers block city streets, blaring their horns and disrupting traffic. But the protest has also drawn backlash over alleged harassment as well as the presence of Confederate flags and flags bearing swastikas.

While the protest began in opposition to vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, it quickly evolved into a rallying point for opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and the coronavirus measures it has imposed. And it has drawn support from Republican politicians in the United States, too.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement on Sunday that the demonstration posed a “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.”

Watson said the city needed “support from other jurisdictions and levels of government” to help respond to the major disruption.

Image: Truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa (Lars Hagberg / Reuters)
Image: Truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa (Lars Hagberg / Reuters)

He did not provide details on what measures it might impose itself under its emergency declaration.

Ottawa residents have shared accounts on social media of being afraid to leave their homes and facing sleepless nights as truckers blare their horns through the night.

In a statement on Sunday, the Ottawa Police Service said at least 60 criminal investigations have been opened so far in connection with the demonstration, including for alleged hate crimes, mischief, thefts and property damage.

On Sunday alone, the police service said it had made at least seven arrests, with at least 100 tickets issued.

Several individuals were arrested for mischief, while multiple vehicles and fuel were seized, the police service said.

It said more than 100 Highway Traffic Act and other Provincial Offence Notices had also been issued including for excessive honking, driving the wrong way, having alcohol readily available and having the improper class of driving license.

The Yucatan Times