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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau derided the thousands of citizens protesting lockdowns and mask mandates as “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.”
As a huge protest dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” rages through week two, paralyzing the capital city of Ottawa, Trudeau took aim at the opponents of nationwide regulations enacted over COVID-19. 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.”
“Mayor Jim Watson today declared a state of emergency for the City of Ottawa due to the ongoing demonstration,” the statement said.
“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. It also provides 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,” the statement said.
The mass of truckers began congregating in the city to protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers. But that was more than a week ago, and since then, the convoy has become a mass demonstration against the Canadian government over coronavirus regulations, including lockdowns and mandatory masks.
The protesters have virtually shut down downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill and are now demanding Trudeau end all national mandates.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government would not alter its policies in light of the protests.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the  election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said Sunday on CBC television, according to Reuters.
Trudeau, who has been in isolation after saying he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week, has ruled out deploying Canada’s military to break up the protest.
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 [email protected].