Ontario Premier calls on COVID restrictions protesters to end their ‘occupation’: NPR
John Woods/The Canadian Press/via AP
Ontario’s Conservative premier on Friday called on protesters to end the ‘occupation‘ of Ottawa, while crowdfunding site GoFundMe said it would refund or redirect to charities the vast majority millions raised by demonstrators protesting against COVID-19 measures in the Canadian capital.
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly moved 150 officers to the hardest-hit parts of the capital, but he gave no indication of when the multi-day protest would end, saying police were on the move. expected it to resume this weekend, as protests are also planned in Toronto and Quebec. City.
“It’s not a protest anymore. It’s become an occupation,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “It’s time for this to end.”
Ford said the province is on the verge of getting back to normal amid the pandemic and that protests are a constitutional right, but he said a sit-in is unacceptable.
GoFundMe said it cut off funding from organizers because it determined the effort violated the site’s terms of service due to illegal activity. He had already suspended the fundraising effort, which had raised about C$10 million (US$7.8 million).
“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful protest has turned into an occupation, with police reports of violence and other illegal activity,” GoFundMe said in a statement.
“No other funds will be directly distributed.”
Ottawa police thanked them for listening to concerns and called on “all crowdfunding sites to follow.”
Protest organizers are also facing a class action lawsuit over the continued sound of the horn, filed on behalf of residents.
Sloly acknowledged that “confidence has been affected” as Ottawa residents are furious with the horns, traffic jams and harassment they have faced. Many complain that the police haven’t done much and they call it an occupation.
“If we knew it was going to seep into neighborhoods, we would have deployed more resources to those neighborhoods,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Bell said. “We listened to our community. They are upset, they are scared.”
Thousands of demonstrators protesting vaccination mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions descended on the capital last weekend, deliberately blocking traffic around Parliament Hill. Police estimate there were around 250 left, but Bell said they expected 300 to 400 more trucks this weekend and more than 1,000 protesters on foot. He added that up to 1,000 counter-protesters were also expected.
The ‘Freedom Truck Convoy’ drew support from former US President Donald Trump and the opposition Federal Conservative Party in Canada, but two Federal Conservative Party lawmakers broke with the party and said the protest had to end.
“I spent the week suffering the siege of Ottawa,” tweeted Conservative lawmaker Pierre Paul-Hus. “I demand that we clear the streets and stop this occupation controlled by radicals and anarchist groups.”
I spent the week undergoing the siege of Ottawa. If the motivation of truckers could be understood, the current situation is quite different. I ask that we clear the streets and stop this occupation controlled by radicals and anarchist groups. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/OU0DwyviWY
— Pierre Paul-Hus (@PierrePaulHus) February 4, 2022
Senator Dennis Patterson has left the Conservative caucus.
“I wholeheartedly and wholeheartedly deplore and denounce what is happening in Ottawa with the so-called Freedom Convoy at this time. Let’s be clear: if you wrap yourself up or wave a Nazi or Confederate flag, you are declaring yourself a person which embraces hate, bigotry and racism,” Patterson said in a statement.
The Conservative Party ousted its moderate party leader this week and the interim leader has voiced support for the protesters.
Many Canadians were outraged after some protesters urinated and parked on the National War Memorial. We danced at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A number carried signs and flags with swastikas.
Protesters have said they will not leave until all mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are gone. They are also calling for the removal of the Trudeau government, although it is responsible for some of the measures, most of which were put in place by provincial governments.
Late Thursday, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had approved the mayor’s request for national police to support municipal police.
Organizers, including those who held racist and white supremacist views, had raised millions for the “freedom truck convoy” across the country against vaccination mandates and other restrictions. Demonstrations are also planned in Toronto and Quebec. Toronto police closed a street south of the provincial legislature where five major hospitals are located. A convoy of semi-tractor trucks pulled up north of the Legislature and honked Friday night.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a federation representing truckers across the country, has estimated that 85% of truckers in Canada are vaccinated. He opposes the dispute.
Some of the demonstrators are protesting a rule that came into effect on January 15 requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immune to the coronavirus. The United States has the same rule for truckers entering the United States. So if the Canadian government removed it, it wouldn’t make any difference.