The latest on protests against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa and beyond
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/02/2022 (237 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, both in Ottawa and various cities across Canada. All times eastern:
Manitoba RCMP say a slow-rolling truck convoy delayed a woman from getting medical care last week.
The Mounties say a man was driving his 82-year-old sister to the hospital that serves the Winkler area in southern Manitoba, when he got stuck behind a protest convoy on the only highway to the hospital.
RCMP say it took an hour for the man to drive three kilometres.
They call the situation unacceptable and warn they will not tolerate any blocking of roads near hospitals.
The NDP wants the U.S. ambassador to Canada to testify before the House of Commons foreign affairs committee about American influence in funding the anti-vaccine mandate protests.
NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson says she hopes Ambassador David Cohen can shed light on reports of online fundraising efforts coming from south of the border.
The Commons committee meets Thursday afternoon and McPherson would need unanimous consent from all parties to invite Cohen to appear.
Independent Ontario MPP Randy Hillier says protesters in Ottawa have another weekend of “fun-filled festivities” planned for this Saturday.
For the last two weekends, thousands of protesters have descended on Ottawa and local residents have complained of harassment in the street and overwhelming noise.
Hiller says a convoy of construction and tradespeople are expected to join the protesters this weekend.
Hillier was speaking at a news conference organized by People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
Ottawa police issued notice to demonstrators in the nation’s capital to clear the streets or risk being charged and arrested without a warrant.
The warning comes nearly two weeks into the anti-vaccine mandate protest that has gridlocked Ottawa’s downtown.
In a statement, police say demonstrators must stop blocking streets or face the possibility of being charged with mischief to property.
The police also warn that protesters’ vehicles and other property may be seized and possibly forfeited.
They say charges or convictions related to unlawful activity associated with the demonstration may lead to those people being barred from crossing the U.S. border.
The Ontario court of justice has granted Ottawa’s request to increase fines for some of the infractions that have punctuated the protest in the city’s downtown for nearly two weeks.
The city asked the court to increase the maximum fines for flouting the noise bylaw, idling illegally, blocking roads and lighting illegal open-air fires.
All of those infractions will now carry a maximum fine of $1,000 each.
Mayor Jim Watson says he is confident the federal and provincial governments will send reinforcements for Ottawa’s police force before this coming weekend.
The last two weekends have seen much rowdier protests in the core since anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators moved into town nearly two weeks ago.
Watson says many of the officers will have to come in from different parts of the country, which means it will take time for them to arrive.
But he says the Ontario and federal governments know how urgent Ottawa’s request for relief is.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he will meet with protesters clogging the city’s downtown core if they move all their vehicles out of the core.
He says he isn’t going to reward the protesters’ “outrageous behaviour,” and they would have to give the city back to its people before he spoke with them.
He says to do otherwise would be of no advantage to Ottawa’s citizens.
Watson says he’s not sure what such a meeting would accomplish anyway, since the city isn’t responsible for COVID-19 restrictions or vaccine mandates.
Ottawa’s city council has asked its legal department to review the possibility of filing an injunction to keep fire hazards out of the protest zone in the capital’s core and stop vehicles from idling there.
Coun. Theresa Kavanagh says she’s particularly concerned about open flames and cans of fuel in the area.
Councillors say it should not be up to individual citizens to take court action to protect themselves against the protest.
They brought up the potential for an injunction against blocking bus routes downtown as well.
The city’s legal department says so far it has been taking its cues from police about whether an injunction would be helpful.
Keith Egli, chair of the city’s board of health, says the city’s chief public health officer is concerned about idling vehicles in the city’s core.
He told city council today that Dr. Vera Etches has flagged the trucks clogging city streets as a health issue.
At this point the city has no plans to measure the air quality in the parliamentary precinct.
That kind of testing would typically be carried out by the provincial environment ministry.
Toronto police say they’re closing streets around Ontario’s legislature in response to several social media posts announcing a possible demonstration involving many vehicles.
The force is also asking the public to avoid the area unless absolutely necessary and says to expect more closures in the coming days.
Ontario’s legislature sits just north of a downtown stretch known as “hospital row.”
Police say keeping emergency routes clear and protecting key infrastructure is a priority.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the federal government is working on the timing of when to send more police officers to Ottawa.
Watson spoke with prime minister and the federal ministers of public safety and emergency preparedness Tuesday to discuss Ottawa’s request for aid to deal with the ongoing protest.
Ottawa asked the federal and provincial governments for 1,800 officers to help bolster police response — a near doubling of Ottawa’s force.
Watson says the federal government understands how quickly Ottawa needs the reinforcements.
He says he is set to speak with provincial officials about it later today.
Ottawa’s city manager says some trucks that have been clogging Ottawa’s downtown streets have left the city’s core.
But Steve Kanellakos says he is not sure whether they left the city entirely, as there have been reports of more trucks on the nearby Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.
Police are now trying to finish counting all the trucks idling in the capital city.
He says several new encampments popped up overnight and most have been cleared out.
He says protesters have also set up camp in a lot south of Carleton University.
The city manager says police directed protesters to the lot in order to prevent vehicles from parking on residential streets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.