Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the threat of violence has been too great to actively force convoy protesters and their vehicles parked in and around downtown Ottawa to leave the city.
Roadblocks and vehicle arrivals started Friday and, according to police, grew to an estimated crowd of 8,000 people Saturday. About 3,000 people gathered around Parliament Hill on Sundayaccording to the city’s emergency and defense service chief.
Attitudes range from the small percentage of truck drivers who do not want the two COVID-19 vaccine doses now required to cross the Canada-US border to people who want all COVID-19 rules withdrawn and Government leaders must resign, to people accused of violence, harassment, racism and homophobia.
Ottawa paramedics confirmed Monday that they had to ask for police escorts this weekend because stones and verbal assaults were thrown at an ambulance and paramedics.
Crowds and large vehicles have limited access to downtown Ottawa, close shops, service centers, a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, and a public school. Horn has been pushing in protest for parts of four days over neighborhoods where tens of thousands of people live.
Some organizers say the goal is to create a logistical nightmare for the government and force it to act. They have not said when the protest will end.
On CBC Radio Ottawa tomorrow, Watson on Monday reiterated his call for protesters to stop disturbing the city and go home, but said the city is taking direction from police. Leadership must weigh whether stepping in will cause a “flare-up”.
“That [police] boss nødt have to assess almost on an hour-by-hour basis: By intervening in this particular street or this particular area, will it cause more harm than good, and will it throw gas on a fire? “said Watson.
“I know the public is saying, ‘Just go in and get a ticket,’ but police officers are being swarmed … We need to use judgment and common sense.”
SE | The mayor’s message to the remaining protesters:
Ottawa police said Sunday they had made an arrest and were investigating a number of incidents, including threatening behavior, public misconduct and dangerous operation of a vehicle.
To protesters wishing to leave the city, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said officers will help ensure they do so safely, and then see who is staying and why.
Watson, who is not running for re-election this fall, said he wanted to know why the National War Memorial did not have more protection and how trucks were allowed to park in residential areas.
“I asked … why you can not start buying tickets [on Queen Elizabeth Driveway], it’s far enough away. And they said they would get on their CB [radio] and there would be another 20 hauliers smashing down the barricade. “
City officials have scheduled a 15:30 PM ET news conference to discuss the response to the convoy.
‘Colossal amount of disrespect’
It told the president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association Ottawa tomorrow Hotel staff called police “all the time” about problems such as violence and vandalism during a “brutal” weekend.
“There’s a tremendous amount of disrespect from this group,” Steve Ball said.
“There were some very good, indulgent people – not so much on [mask rules] – but the few who took it to the extent they take it, got some employees to go home, several hotels stopped selling reservations. “
Ottawa tomorrow5:46Some shops in the center reduced their opening hours or closed completely during the protests
Ball said there was verbal abuse by staff at most local hotels over the weekend, and people who were not there for the protest complained about noise, parties and people being sick in the hallways.
Asked about people from the protest who were to stay this week, Ball said many protesters checking out of hotels this past weekend had booked again for the coming weekend.
Premiere’s first comment
Local politicians, including Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod, are asking protesters to “go home,” while the office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford released his first public comment on the convoy Monday morning.
“The right to peaceful protest is at the heart of our Canadian identity,” the statement said.
“However, I was extremely alarmed to see some individuals desecrating our most sacred monuments and waving swastikas and other symbols of hatred and intolerance this weekend. It has no place in Ontario or Canada. Not now. Never ever.”
NEW: We asked the Premier Ford office for a comment on the Ottawa protest and asked a series of questions. Here is the answer we have received (so far – I follow up on the unanswered questions) pic.twitter.com/C1DIUtmGvR
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canadians are “shocked” and “disgusted” by some of the protesters’ actions. After being asked to meet with them, Trudeau said he had no interest in going “near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric and violence against their fellow citizens.”