Ottawa declares emergency amid second weekend of ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests

Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to thousands turning out for a second weekend of demonstrations against COVID-19 public health measures, blocking roads and disrupting parts of the capital city. 

The Washington Post reported that the protests included road blockades, shooting off fireworks, driving on sidewalks and constant horn-honking by truckers.

“Declaring a state of emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” the city said in its press release announcing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s decision.

Police added that tickets had been issued over the weekend for behavior including using fireworks and driving violations, some of which resulted in vehicles being seized and towed. 

The Ottawa Police Department also issued a statement on Sunday about the disruptive nature of the protests.

“Overnight, demonstrators exhibited extremely disruptive and unlawful behaviour, which presented risks to public safety and unacceptable distress for Ottawa residents,” police said. “We continue to advise demonstrators not to enter Ottawa, and to go home.”

The protests began after truckers gathered to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and protocols, in what was dubbed the “Freedom Convoy.” 

But since then, the protests have spread to cites around the country, while also drawing a “significant element” from the U.S. and have prompted “several criminal investigations” into “threatening” and “illegal,” according to Canadian police.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance said last week that many people at the protests, which had turned into a broader demonstration against COVID restrictions, “do not have a connection to the trucking industry.”

Ottawa said its emergency declaration would allow for “greater flexibility within the municipal administration to enable the City of Ottawa to manage business continuity for essential services for its residents and enables a more flexible procurement process, which could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders.” 


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