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Covid-19: Trudeau denounces anti-vax trucker protests, says 'no place' in Canada for hatred

Police said on Friday they would start towing trucks on Monday if necessary



Reuters file
Reuters file

By Reuters

Published: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 11:21 PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said Canadians were disgusted by the behaviour of some people protesting against Covid-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa and said he would not be intimidated by those hurling abuse.

Dozens of trucks and other vehicles have jammed up central Ottawa since Friday and thousands descended upon Parliament Hill to complain about Trudeau and Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

Police said most demonstrators have been peaceful but local residents complain they are fed up with the non-stop blaring of truck horns and demonstrators using the streets as an open-air toilet. Some also forced a homeless shelter to give them food - the shelter said on Twitter - while others flew Nazi flags.

"We are not intimated by those who hurl abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless," Trudeau told a news conference.

"We won't give in to those who fly racist flags. We won't cave to those who engage in vandalism ... There is no place in our country for threats, violence, or hatred," he added.

Senior members of the official opposition Conservative Party, which last year lost its third consecutive election to Trudeau's Liberals, have praised the demonstrators.

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, Trudeau said, "is going to need to reflect very carefully on how he's walking a path that supports these people who do not represent truckers."

Trudeau earlier announced he had contracted Covid-19 but was feeling fine and would be working from home.

Police said some of the trucks should start leaving on Monday, even as some protesters insisted they would stay.

Canada Unity, one of the groups involved, said it wanted to gather 1,000 people to go into a mall and shop without masks. The Rideau Centre, a large nearby mall, said it would be shut for a second day on Monday.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, speaking to reporters, condemned what he called the more extreme behavior.x

"My message to the truckers is you've had your protest, you've had your rally, time to go back home," he said.

The demonstration started as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border drivers, but then developed into a demonstration against the Trudeau government and its Covid policies.

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Marian Tudor, who lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, is an owner-operator of his truck and can no longer haul goods across the border because he is unvaccinated. He was parked in front of parliament with a trailer full of food, suggesting he planned a long stay.

Tudor, 61, said he was willing to stay "as long as it takes, until we get these mandates removed for everybody, not only for the truckers."

Tudor accused the government is using "fake science," adding that Trudeau "better stop his draconian measures, because he stands on the wrong side of the history."

Police said on Friday they would start towing trucks on Monday if necessary. But by late on Sunday they said they had avoided ticketing and towing vehicles to avoid provoking confrontations with demonstrators.


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