An estimated 2,000 protesters are braving the frigid temperatures and blowing snow in downtown Ottawa on Saturday as they continue to push back against COVID-19 mandates with demonstrations that have crippled Canada’s capital city for a third weekend in a row.
City officials are expecting another surge of protesters this weekend, despite the weather, and say the number would be similar to that of last weekend, when about 5,000 people and 1,000 trucks flooded the city, according to Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly.
‘Our message to you is: Do not come,’ he said Friday. ‘And if you do commit unlawful acts, there will be consequences.’
Sloly’s comments came as Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario, following the state of emergency declared in Ottawa.
But hundreds of people are already out braving the elements – including 10 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, crowding an area of downtown barricaded by tractor-trailers just outside the Parliament buildings.
Some were seen dancing between the big rigs, others were relaxing in an inflatable hot tub, and some continued to honk their horns in defiance of a court injunction.
Angry soldiers and war veterans tore down the fence surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and war memorial, which had been erected by police after a young woman stood on it last week. Vets then preceded to hold a moment of silence and clean snow from the memorial.
As of Saturday morning, Ottawa police had issued more than 2,600 tickets related to the protest over the past two weeks, and made 26 arrests.
Police said it deployed all of its available officers on Friday night and are awaiting reinforcements in order to enact a plan to end the occupation.
But sources tell DailyMail.com that a long convoy of trucks currently on the highway and headed to Ottawa from Montreal.
Demonstrators Gabriel (L) and Jean-Philippe (R) sit in a hot-tub between trucks during a protest by truck drivers over pandemic health rules and the Trudeau government, outside the parliament on Saturday
Angry serving soldiers and war Vets tore down the fence surrounding the tomb of the unknown soldier and war memorial, the fence was erected by police after a young woman stood on the grave of the unknown soldier
Police were confused and unwilling to confront the group of Vets near Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the trucker ‘Freedom Convoy’ as vets preceded to hold a moment of silence and then clean the memorial of snow
Hundreds of people of all ages have joined the protesters in Ottawa for a third weekend
Merle Doherty, manager of the Rapid Response team of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, traveled from Calgary, Alberta to support and pray with the protesters
Temperatures continue to dip, and are expected to drop drastically overnight, but protesters keep arriving for the ongoing occupation.
Gregory Moore said the solution to the end of the protests is simple.
‘Drop the mandates. Everyone goes home,’ Moore told DailyMail.com. ‘This is really easy stuff.’
Gregory Moore stands out in the crowd. He’s a black man waving an American flag.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, he says he lost his job at an auto plant in Windsor, Ontario – which is across the river from Detroit – after 22 years for ‘not bowing down to our government’ and ‘for not being raped.’
‘If the government can tell you that you’re forced to take a shot, why can’t they tell you that you’re forced to give a kidney?,’ he said. ‘This is a free country. You guys have been saying for years and years that ‘it’s my body and my choice’ and now it’s time to stand with us and say ‘this is my body, it is my choice.’
Moore added that if anybody wants to get vaccinated, ‘God bless you. Knock yourself out, go get vaccinated. But if you don’t want to get vaccinated you shouldn’t be forced into it by anybody. And you won’t be forced.’
Moore said this is the first time the world has looked at a Canadian social justice movement for leadership.
‘It’s unbelievable,’ he said. ‘This Canadian movement has sparked a movement all over the world. We are going to get our freedom back, it’s as simple as that. We’re not leaving until we get our freedom back.’
Moore said he knows similar occupations will happen in U.S. cities.
‘You better believe it,’ he said. ‘Once they see what we’re doing up here, it’s all over, it’s game over. They’re planning right now.’
The proud father said vaccine mandates mean his kids are left out of track-and-field and the after-school music programs they love.
‘They’re cut out of everything. I’m cut out of everything,’ Moore explained. ‘I tried to go to a restaurant here and they would not let me in.’
Moore said Ontario Premier Doug Ford ‘has already destroyed our lives.’
A demonstrator keeps warm amid snowfall during the third weekend of protests. Temperatures are supposed to drop overnight
Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, said his cabinet will enact orders to make it illegal to block borders and highways and will impose CA $100,000 ($78,000) fines and prison terms for those who defy them.
On Friday, a Canadian court issued the injunction to end the blockade at the key bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario with Detroit. Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz granted the injunction on Friday evening, which will last for 10 days and means that blocking the bridge is unlawful.
‘They’ve already done it to us and now they’re trying to switch the narrative. It’s a lie.’
Moore said the occupation of Ottawa is not likely to end anytime soon because he doesn’t believe police have the ability to move in.
‘What are they going to do?,’ he said. ‘We’re not stopping until we get our freedom. We have lost everything that we have worked for. We lost family, we lost friends.’
A demonstrator holds a US and Canadian flag in Ottawa as protests continued this weekend
City officials are expecting another surge of protesters this weekend, despite the weather and say the number would be similar to that of last weekend, when about 5,000 people and 1,000 trucks flooded the city
A couple from the Niagara Falls region told DailyMail.com they don’t believe police would take extreme action to shut down the demonstrations on a weekend.
Ken and Danielle Minshall made the eight-hour drive to Ottawa for the protests. And they brought their children, ages 3 and 1, with them.
‘We just think everyone has the right to choose what they want,’ Ken Minshall told DailyMail.com.
‘The kids have to learn that as well, right?’ Danielle added.
Bringing such young children to a loud, crowded street in sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions, where diesel fumes and the smell of marijuana fill the air, seemed like ‘the right decision,’ Ken said.
He added that he doesn’t worry about police taking action to shut it down.
‘I think if that were to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be on a weekend,’ Minshall said. ‘For them to come in here, it would be absolutely ludicrous and they would lose so much respect for everybody around Canada. I don’t think it would be the correct move and I don’t think they’re going to do that.’
The young parents admit their boys are too young to understand what is going on.
‘We’ll take some pictures and explain to him what we did once he starts getting the knowledge,’ Minshall said. ‘He’s entitled to make his own decisions when that happens.’
‘This could be just the tip of the iceberg, really. We’ve got to stand strong on this and make sure that we hold true to our freedoms and don’t let them mess up the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.’
Protests in Ottawa continue this weekend. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said Friday that the number of trucks and demonstrators would be similar to that of last weekend, when about 5,000 people and 1,000 trucks flooded the city
Protesters walk past Parliament Hill in Ottawa during a snow squall, as truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 restrictions for a 16th day
Vehicles clog downtown streets in Ottawa as truckers and supporters continue to protest on Saturday
Ronnie Phillips, a Texan currently living in Nova Scotia, traveled to Ottawa this weekend to show his support.
‘These truckers are awesome, I’ll tell you,’ he said. ‘They laid it on the line. They put everything on the line. You don’t see that very often anymore. These are patriots.’
Phillips denounced Trudeau as his prime minister.
‘It was that important to me,’ he said. ‘Trudeau is not my prime minister. I don’t have any skin in the game. I’m just a legal resident. But I’m here to support all of this.’
Phillips said he hasn’t been back in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic because he fears if he tests positive for COVID-19 while there he won’t be able to come back to Canada.
‘They can stick you in some kind of isolation down in the states or if they let you back into Canada you can also be fined for it,’ he said.
Phillips added that he got vaccinated because he couldn’t go anywhere.
I couldn’t do anything,’ he lamented. ‘I couldn’t go to the movies, I couldn’t go out and eat.
‘I didn’t want to get the lousy shot. What are you going to do?’
Phillips said the mandates have caused division within his own family.
‘I have a huge extended family and there are some quarrels among them right now over whether you have the shot or not,’ he said. ‘If you don’t have the shot you’re not welcome in some of their houses. What kind of crap is that?
‘I don’t care if you get the shot. I don’t care if you wear a mask. Just don’t force it on me.’
Phillips is battling the cold winter air in Ottawa to attend the protests this weekend, but doesn’t figure he’ll be battling police.
‘I can’t see it. I mean, there’s kids here, there’s old people here. There’s women, children,’ he said. ‘What do you do? You can’t come in here and start clubbing people and dragging them out of here.’
But Phillips said the world is not witnessing a revolution.
‘It’s not a revolution,’ he said. ‘All they want is the mandates gone. They want to live their lives. They don’t want to overthrow the government. They just want the mandates gone.’
Merle Doherty, manager of the Rapid Response team of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, traveled from Calgary, Alberta to support the protesters and to simply pray with them.
‘We walk up and down the street and pray with people,’ Doherty told DailyMail.com. ‘There are many, many Christians here and it’s wonderful to meet them, pray with them. And those that aren’t Christians, it’s wonderful to pray with them and they are so open to prayer.’
Doherty said people are mostly asking for prayers for their marriages and health. He said his ministry isn’t taking a political position.
‘We can pray with the truck drivers, we can pray with the people walking by, we can pray with the police,’ he added. ‘We’re not taking a stand on it at all.’
When asked, ‘if vaccine and mask mandates are designed to take care of each other, isn’t that something Jesus would get behind,’ Doherty responded that the protests are an example of people taking care of each other.
‘What you’re seeing here is people taking care of one another,’ Doherty said. ‘I have not seen a hostile voice here at all. There are thousands of people here and there hasn’t been a hostile voice. So are we taking care of each other? Absolutely.
‘This is very unique. We’re in a major city. Everyone’s looking out for one another. It’s a very jubilant spirit.’
OTTAWA: Demonstrators protest vaccine mandates outside the Parliament in Ottawa on Friday. Canada’s Ontario province Friday declared a state of emergency over the trucker-led protests in Windsor and Ottawa
A line of police pushes back protestors and their vehicles on Saturday as they clear a blockade at the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge, that was sealing off the flow of commercial traffic over the bridge into Canada from Detroit
Police in black uniforms with yellow vests descended on the scene around 8:30 a.m., warning protesters to ‘act lawfully’ after Freedom Convoy truckers in Canada ignored two deadlines overnight
Protestors confront police as they try to clear protestors and their vehicles from a blockade at the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge
Since the protests in Ottawa began 16 days ago, other demonstrations have emerged in cities across Canada, reached the U.S.-Canada border, and even spread to other countries, including France and New Zealand.
On Friday, a Canadian court issued the injunction to end the blockade at the key bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario with Detroit.
Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz granted the injunction on Friday evening, which will last for 10 days and means that blocking the bridge is unlawful.
In Windsor, as the vehicles moved out on Saturday, a handful of people who remained near the entrance of the bridge gradually grew and as of 1 p.m. had turned into a large peaceful crowd of people who refused to leave.
Police in black uniforms with yellow safety vests formed a line between the bridge and the crowd and have been steadily pushing back the demonstrators, as some shouted ‘shame,’ ‘freedom’ and ‘you’re on the wrong side.’
Windsor Police stated on Twitter around 11 a.m. that they could begin making arrests if protesters continued to block traffic.
‘Enforcement continuing, individuals who are located within the demonstration area are subject to arrest,’ the Windsor police wrote. ‘People are advised to immediately vacate the area.’
While the trucks and vehicles had exited the bridge, both directions still appeared to be closed off to traffic as of Saturday afternoon.
Police descended on the scene around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, warning protesters to ‘act lawfully’ after the Freedom Convoy truckers in Canada ignored two deadlines overnight.
The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, which began in Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day on Saturday. The demonstrations are also an outpouring of fury toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Protests spread to three border points earlier this week, including the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing where dozens of vehicles crowded the area since Monday, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers.
Many of the protesters began packing up and driving away as police arrived to disperse the crowd Saturday morning after spending the night at the blockade that has disrupted the flow of goods between the two countries and forced the auto industry on both sides to roll back production.
The bridge remains closed, but the intersection of Huron Church Road and College Avenue in Windsor near the Ambassador Bridge where protesters have been camped out since Monday has been cleared.
Officers have not arrested any demonstrators who are ‘holding the line’ at the entrance of the bridge, but continue to slowly move in, giving them less and less room. RCMP reinforcements, including officers in military-style gear, arrived at the protest site as backup.
Windsor Police tweeted earlier Saturday morning that they and ‘its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge. We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time.’
With dozens of police around his car, a man with ‘Trump 2024’ and ‘Mandate freedom’ spray-painted on his vehicle left without any resistance. Some stood their ground and broke out signing Canada’s national anthem. Other protesters backed down and began dismantling a small tarp-covered encampment and started to sweep up the area before driving away.
Within the hour, as police moved in, and all trucks and vehicles began pulling away from Ambassador Bridge.
A judge on Friday ordered an end to the Ambassador Bridge blockade, but despite the injunction and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 7pm-turned-midnight deadline set by an Ottawa state of emergency declaration, the protesters refused to leave well into Saturday morning until police presence got them moving.
More protesters arrived to the area by late morning, though, carrying flags and yelling. Police continued to back people away from the bridge, and there were no visible physical confrontations.
Daniel Koss was among those who stayed overnight. Shortly before police advanced, he said the protest had succeeded in bringing attention to demands to lift COVID-19 mandates and he was happy it remained peaceful.
‘It’s a win-win,’ Koss said. ‘The pandemic is rolling down right now, they can remove the mandates, all the mandates, and everyone’s happy. The government does the right thing, and the protesters are all happy.’
He said he believed most people would disperse in an orderly fashion, ‘because we don’t want to cause a big problem.’
Trudeau had said Friday that ‘everything is on the table’ to end the protest and Ottawa police were on the scene with threats to forcibly remove the truckers who had been blocking the busy bridge for days.
Officers had also handed out flyers warning those refusing to retreat that they risked CA $100,000 fines ($78,000 USD) and the permanent loss of their commercial driving license.
The Ontario government, which declared a state of emergency in the province on Friday, had threatened fines and jail for protesters if they do not leave.
PARIS: French Police use teargas to disperse members of Freedom Convoy on the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday
PARIS: French police fired tear gas at demonstrators on the Champs-Élysées avenue and also threw tear gas grenades to disperse protesters and sprayed demonstrators in a separate march on the other side of the city
The protests have reverberated outside the country, and police in Paris intercepted at least 500 vehicles attempting to enter the French capital Saturday, in defiance of a police order, to take part in protests against virus restrictions inspired by Canada’s horn-honking ‘Freedom Convoy.’
Several convoys were stopped from entering at key Parisian arteries and over 200 motorists were ticketed, police said. Protesters inspired by the horn-blaring ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations in Canada, have spread to Paris, France and managed to get through police checkpoints on Saturday to snarl traffic around the Arc de Triomphe monument.
French police fired tear gas at demonstrators on the Champs-Élysées avenue and also threw tear gas grenades to disperse protesters and sprayed demonstrators in a separate march on the other side of the city.
Elsewhere, at least two protesters were detained amid a seizure of knives, hammers and other objects in a central square. Some 7,000 officers have been mobilized for the weekend protesters, who are railing against the vaccination pass that France requires to enter restaurants and many other venues.
Police began clearing Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, on Saturday morning, more than 12 hours after a court order to end the blockade took effect
Officers have not moved in to arrest any demonstrators, but continue to slowly move in, giving them less and less room. RCMP reinforcements, including officers in military-style gear, arrived at the protest site as backup
A protester sweeps up after police arrived Saturday morning to enforce an injunction against their demonstration, which has blocked traffic across the Ambassador Bridge by protesters against COVID-19 restrictions, in Windsor, Ontario
Protesters sweep and clean up the area after police arrived Saturday morning to enforce an injunction against their demonstration, which has blocked traffic across the Ambassador Bridge by protesters against COVID-19 restrictions, in Windsor, Ontario
Around 8:30 a.m., Windsor Police began gathering at Ambassador Bridge where protesters have blocked traffic all week. Police tweeted that they have commenced enforcement and said they ‘urge all demonstrators to act lawfully and peacefully’
Protesters pack up supplies as police moved in Saturday morning enforcing an injunction against their demonstration, which has blocked traffic across the Ambassador Bridge by protesters against COVID-19 restrictions
‘President Biden and I both agreed that for the security of people and the economy, these blockades cannot continue,’ Trudeau said at a press briefing on Friday. ‘Make no mistake, the border cannot and will not remain closed’