Four Canadian provinces have moved to lift their COVID-19 restrictions as a massive protest by truckers continued blockades Wednesday in Ottawa, paralyzing the capital city.
Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island provinces have all announced plans to eliminate or roll back some or all measures. For instance, Alberta “dropped its vaccine passport for places such as restaurants immediately and getting rid of masks at the end of the month,” the Associated Press reported.
The moves came this week after a huge throng of truckers shut down Ottawa, protesting a Jan. 15 rule requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immunized against COVID-19. On Wednesday, more than 400 trucks gridlocked the downtown area. And a blockade by fed-up Canadians entered Day 3 at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the busiest trade bridge in North America.
Some of the protesters say they are willing to die for their cause, the AP said, citing Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
“I’ll be brutally honest: You are trying to have a rational conversation and not everyone on the ground is a rational actor,” the mayor said. “Police are doing what is right by taking a moderate approach, trying to sensibly work through this situation where everyone can walk away, nobody gets hurt, and the bridge can open.”
Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau derided the thousands of citizens protesting lockdowns and mask mandates as “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.”
As the huge protest dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” raged, Trudeau took aim at the opponents of nationwide regulations enacted over COVID-19 policies. During an emergency debate in Parliament on Monday, he blasted the trucker-led protests, accusing them of trying to derail Canada’s democracy.
“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop. The people of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighborhoods,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau also made accusations that there are racist elements among the protesters. “This is a story of a country that got through this pandemic by being united, and a few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are.”
“This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians,’ the prime minister said. ‘Everyone’s tired of COVID, but these protests are not the way to get through it,” he added.
Trudeau also said fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus should not be a partisan issue. “I’ve seen members of the opposition call for an end to the blockades. I salute that. This is a time to put national interests ahead of partisan interests.”
The mayor of Canada’s capital city has declared a state of emergency after truckers shut down the city’s downtown for more than a week to protest COVID-19 rules.
Trudeau’s comments on Monday came a day after Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement that the demonstration posed a “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.