Aerial footage shows heavily congested Ambassador Bridge as truck convoy jams US-Canada border
Ottawa remains in a state of emergency as protesters in trucks opposed to Covid-19 restrictions continue to paralyse the centre of the Canadian capital.
Hundreds of truckers have remained on the streets for 12 days. Residents are furious at the disruption and have successfully had an injunction granted banning the use of truck air horns.
Mayor Jim Watson has asked the federal government to double the size of the police force to address what he called “an aggressive and hateful occupation of our neighbourhoods”.
The “freedom convoy” has attracted support from many US Republicans including former President Donald Trump, who said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates.”
In an address on Monday, the prime minister called protestors “a few people shouting and waving swastikas” adding that does not define who Canadians are. Flags incorporating the Nazi symbol were seen in the initial days of the protest.
Separately, the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit was blockaded by trucks in both directions late on Monday and remains at a standstill.
It is a crucial commercial link between the US and Canada and given the impact on supply chain is considered a problem that the Biden administration can no longer ignore.
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Nearly two dozen protesters arrested
Ottawa police on Tuesday announced that at least 23 people were arrested in relation to the “unlawful demonstrations” on the Canada-US border.
Police have also opened nearly 80 criminal investigations related to the protests. Ottawa deputy police chief Steve Bell said that they have immobilised several heavy vehicles taking part in the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge.
On a normal day around 8,000 trucks cross the bridge, with the route being responsible for about 27 per cent of trade between the United States and Canada.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar9 February 2022 07:17
Towing companies refusing to move trucks
Officials in Ottawa say towing companies contracted to work with the city are refusing to move vehicles that are part of the trucker convoy protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
“I’ve contacted them all and they’re all refusing, as of today, to provide heavy tow truck work,” city manager Steve Kanellakos told reporters on Monday evening after a six-hour council meeting.
Hundreds of trucks are illegally parked in the streets of the Canadian capital and have now been there for approaching two weeks.
Protesters say they will only leave their posts when vaccine mandates are lifted.
It is also very difficult to tow a truck without the help of the driver. Earlier on Tuesday the police said some vehicles had removed their tires and blown their brakes to make them harder to move.
“There are many layers of complexity to dismantling this occupation,” said Ottawa Police Service Deputy Chief Steve Bell.
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 04:45
‘This isn’t something the Biden administration can ignore’
CNN reporter Paula Newton, speaking from Ottawa on the ongoing protest in Canada’s capital and the standstill on the busiest crossing between the US and Canada, says that the “Freedom Convoy” is not something the Biden administration can ignore.
“The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is quite an escalation,” Ms Newton told anchor Kate Bolduan. “Look, I’ve been up and down these streets. I’ve spoken to them. They say they’re not going anywhere.”
More than a quarter of cross-border trade between the US and Canada crosses the bridge – approximately $100bn of trade annually.
The Trudeau government in Ottawa is framing the protest as the actions of a fringe group, but there is no clear path to end the crisis given the lack of any will to negotiate with the truckers by officials.
“At this point, they are saying that, look, this is a fringe minority. And yet people here say that is not the case, that there is a significant minority,” said Ms Newton.
“Kate, I will tell you this isn’t something the Biden administration can ignore, especially given those bridge crossings. There could be impacts on the supply chain between the United States and Canada.”
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 03:45
21-year-old silences trucker protest honking in downtown Ottawa
A 21-year-old resident of Ottawa’s Centretown is being hailed for her role in silencing the constant blaring and honking of truck horns by the protest convoy.
Zexi Li is the lead plaintiff in a proposed C$9.8m class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of local residents after the noise had gone on for more than a week, terrorising the community.
“This situation, quite frankly, really ruffled my feathers,” Ms Li told CTV Morning Live on Tuesday. “I really, really felt that no matter what, I had to do something.
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 02:45
Trudeau demands end to trucker protest saying ‘people waving swastikas’ don’t represent Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded an end to the continuing protest by hundreds of truckers against Covid-19 restrictions that has paralysed Ottawa for 12 days.
“It has to stop,” Mr Trudeau said during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night following his return to parliament after isolating for a week due to a positive Covid-19 test.
“People of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighbourhoods, don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a confederate flag, or the insults and jeers just because they’re wearing a mask. That’s not who Canadians are,” the prime minister said. “These pandemic restrictions are not forever.”
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 01:45
Justin Trudeau urges Canadians to continue ‘listening to science’ to get through pandemic
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 00:55
Lightbound to stay in Liberal caucus despite Trudeau disagreement
Quebec MP Joel Lightbound will stay in the Liberal caucus despite his disagreement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the trucker protest and pandemic policies.
Earlier on Tuesday he said at a press conference that he believes those concerned about Covid-19 policies have “legitimate concerns” and that these should be addressed.
He thinks political leaders are “unwilling to adapt” and have failed at explaining to Canadians the rationale for continued public health measures that he thinks are impacting mental health, dividing families, and causing some to become unemployed through their decision to not get vaccinated.
Mr Lightbound wants a clear roadmap from federal and provincial governments showing how and when restrictions will be lifted.
The Liberal MP also condemned some of the behaviour seen during the protests and added that he has also faced threats from “extreme right groups” during his time in office.
He agrees with the federal government’s position that it’s time for the truckers to move along, does not agree with what he sees as Mr Trudeau’s generalisations about the concerns of those taking part in the protests.
Mr Lightbound says he wants to remain a part of the Liberal Party and hopes that there is room for dissent and different opinions. He adds that he would support the government in a confidence vote.
Oliver O’Connell9 February 2022 00:35
Group behind protest drops plan to replace Canadian government
Canada Unity, the group behind the truck convoy protest, has taken down its Memorandum of Understanding that outlined plans to replace Canada’s elected government.
It has come to the attention of Canada Unity that the Memorandum Of Understanding (herein referred to as MOU) does not reflect the spirit and intent of the Freedom Convoy Movement 2022
We represent the voice of many Canadians who desire to have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upheld. We are everyday Canadians, not lawyers or politicians.
We are immediately withdrawing the MOU as we do not want any unintended interpretations to continue. Our sole desire with the MOU was to have a document where Canadians could peacefully express their displeasure with current C19 mandates, and express their desire to be free. Canada Unity does not support or encourage any acts which tarnish democratic values held by Canadians.
To the over 320,000 original signatories of the MOU; we appreciate your support and will continue to peacefully demonstrate until the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is upheld.
This document was created with the sole purpose of bringing the government of Canada and all Canadian citizens into agreement; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be upheld for all
Canada Unity firmly supports the constitution and democratic process. We remain committed to following lawful process and upholding freedom of choice.
Last night, organisers said they wanted to form a coalition with the opposition.
Oliver O’Connell8 February 2022 23:45
In pictures: Standstill at Ambassador Bridge
Vehicles block the route leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates
Oliver O’Connell8 February 2022 23:20
Quebec phasing out most pandemic restrictions
Quebec will phase out most pandemic restrictions by mid-March, Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday.
“The population is fed up. I’m fed up. We’re all fed up,” he said. “But the reason we resisted [easing restrictions] until today was because there was too much risk.”
“Right now, we can take a calculated risk and finally turn the page.”
Capacity restrictions will be phased out, but mask and vaccine passport mandates will remain for now.
In December the province instituted a mass shutdown due to the Omicron variant.
Restrictions on household and restaurant gathering will be lifted on Saturday. Sports matches, gyms and spas will be allowed from Monday.
On 21 February all retail businesses can open at full capacity and places of worship at 50 per cent capacity up to a maximum of 500 people.
On 28 February working from home will no longer be mandatory, large venues can reopen at 50 per cent capacity, and sports tournaments can restart.
Bars — which closed on 20 December — can reopen on 28 February at 50 per cent capacity, but singing and dancing are banned until 14 March at which point all capacity restrictions will also be lifted.
There is no timeline yet for lifting mask and vaccine passport rules.
Oliver O’Connell8 February 2022 22:50