Ontario Prepares to Welcome Anti-Vaccine Mandate Convoy Amid Concerns of Far-Right Groups
Freedom Convoy 2022 To Arrive In Ottawa This Weekend
A host of volunteers were preparing to welcome a massive convoy of truckers in Hamilton, Ontario.
The group called Canada Unity is calling for an end to the vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the Canada-United States border.
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Monday that the vast majority of truckers in Canada are vaccinated.
“Almost 90 per cent of truckers in Canada are vaccinated,” Trudeau said, speaking to reporters in French. “I regret that the Conservative Party and Conservative politicians are in the process of stoking Canadians’ fears about the supply chain. The reality is that vaccination is how we’ll get through this.”
The convoy started to raise some concerns regarding potential riots similar to what happened in Capitol Hill riots in Washington on Jan 6th, 2021.
A key player behind the convoy travelling to Ottawa is distancing her movement from the increasingly extremist rhetoric online being associated with the protest and asking members of the convoy to report any extreme behaviour to police.
Addressing her Facebook followers in a video posted on the Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page, Tamara Lich said the convoy is expected to arrive at Parliament Hill in Ottawa over the weekend to protest what she calls infringements of personal liberty caused by public health orders.
“If you see participants along the way that are misbehaving, acting aggressively in any way, or inciting any type of violence or hatred, please take down the truck number and their licence plate number so that we can forward that to the police,” she said.
Since the convoy of trucks and other vehicles left B.C. and began snaking its way to Ottawa, extremists and fringe groups have taken to social media to encourage their followers to descend on the capital when the convoy arrives, calling on them to destroy property and threaten elected officials.
Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra, said he is concerned “about the small number of far-right, vocal opposition that is polluting” the political debate sparked by a vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers.
“It’s something that we all need to be aware of, we all need to call out,” Alghabra said. “But at the same time, let’s not lose sight of this, that the vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, the vast majority of truckers are vaccinated. Truckers as you and I are speaking today are delivering goods for Canadians.”
Ontario Provincial Police say they will work to ensure there are no safety issues as a lengthy convoy of truckers opposed to mandated COVID-19 vaccinations travels through the Northwest.
There’s no verification, but a spokesperson for what the organizers have named Freedom Convoy 2022 said the convoy stretched out for 70 kilometres when it left Regina en route to Ottawa.
However, other vehicles could join the group along the way.
An OPP spokesperson says they will monitor the situation and ensure that “things remain peaceful.”
As the convoy entered the province where its main protest will take place, its role as a litmus test for Canadians’ views on the pandemic, two years in, was on full display.
While figures such as former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney cheered the convoy as truckers fighting “government overreach,” some truckers made it clear that the convoy did not speak for them.
For their part, Ottawa police estimate there could be up to 2,000 demonstrators, but this number is shifting quickly, and warn residents against travelling downtown during the event.
“We are planning for a range of potential risks, including but not limited to counterdemonstrations, blocking of intersections, interfering with critical infrastructures, and unlawful and violent activity,” said Trish Ferguson, acting deputy chief of the Ottawa police.
“This is likely to be a very significant event in Ottawa’s downtown core, and on local roads and highways.”