Thousands of protesters who have descended on Ottawa, Canada, said they have no plans to leave despite pleas from public officials to move on after several days of mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the “Freedom Convoy” was set up originally to oppose the government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers but has since evolved into a broader protest against COVID-19 public health measures.
“Quite frankly, [residents] feel they’re prisoners in their own home. And so my hope is that at some point, the police reach the conclusion that it’s time to have a serious discussion about moving these people on,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
“You have the right to protest, you’ve had your protest, please move on. Our city has to get back in normal stead,” Watson added.
“Police have avoided ticketing and towing vehicle[s] so as not to instigate confrontations with demonstrators,” the Ottawa Police Service also said in a press release.
Earlier this week, Trudeau said the convoy represented a “small fringe minority” who do not represent the views of Canadians, adding that about 90% of Canada’s cross-border truckers and 77% of the population have had two COVID vaccination shots.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), representing some 4,500 carriers, owner-operators, and industry suppliers, has opposed the demonstration.
“We ask the Canadian public to be aware that many of the people you see and hear in media reports do not have a connection to the trucking industry,” the CTA said.
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