The trucks remained parked in the streets near parliament on Sunday, a day before lawmakers return to work after the holidays. Hundreds of protesters also came out on Sunday. Some truckers said they would not leave until the warrant was overturned.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Texas on Saturday, praised Canadian protesters for “bravely resisting these anarchic mandates,” a sign that the politicization of the pandemic seen mostly south of the border spread north.
In solidarity with the Ottawa rally, truckers and protesters blocked a Canada-US border crossing in southern Alberta, police said on Twitter.
In Ottawa, thousands of people gathered peacefully on Saturday and there were no arrests, although several incidents are currently under police investigation.
“Multiple criminal investigations are ongoing,” Ottawa Police said on Twitter, including “Desecration of the National War Memorial” and “threatening/illegal/intimidating behavior towards police/city employees and community workers. ‘other individuals’.
A protester was filmed dancing at the war memorial – the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – and flags bearing swastikas were seen in the crowd. A downtown mall closed because protesters refused to wear masks.
Michael Cooper, a Conservative lawmaker who handed out coffee at the protest, was pictured standing near a Canadian flag bearing a swastika during a TV interview. He then released a statement condemning the “reprehensible” protester on Twitter.
Chief of Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre denounced a woman filmed dancing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, saying he was “sickened”.
“We do not tolerate any disrespectful behavior,” the official Facebook page for the rally said on Saturday.
The protest started as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border drivers, but turned into a protest against the Trudeau government with a strong anti-vaccination streak.
For security reasons, Trudeau and his family left their downtown Ottawa home on Saturday. Earlier this week, Trudeau said the convoy represents a “small marginal minority” that does not represent the views of Canadians.
About 90% of cross-border truck drivers in Canada and almost 79% of the population have received two vaccines against COVID-19. Canada is now in the midst of a spike in Omicron variant cases that is straining hospitals.
On Sunday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra ruled out the cancellation of one of the mandates.
“Vaccines are our best way to protect ourselves and our economy against COVID-19,” Alghabra said in an interview with CanaBC. “It is unacceptable to see the swastika floating anywhere,” he added.
The Conservative Party of Canada backed the protest, which directed much of its anger — through signs and chants — directly at Trudeau. The right-wing People’s Party of Canada, which holds no seats in parliament, attended the rally.
“We are super-spreaders of freedom,” Popular Party leader Maxime Bernier said in a speech on Saturday.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said some protesters harassed a soup kitchen, demanding free meals because their refusal to wear masks meant they didn’t have to order from restaurants, according to a CBC interview. .
“You have the right to protest, you had your protest, please move on,” Watson said.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
By Steve Scherer