Protests against COVID-19 measures spread across Canada

OTTAWA, Ontario – Protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions held rallies in cities across Canada on Saturday in a solidarity show with a week-long demonstration in the national capital.

Ottawa officials and several provincial capitals worked to ensure escalating protests against pandemic-related public health measures remained peaceful Saturday.

At noon Saturday in Ottawa, thousands of protesters mingled near open fire on the snow-capped lawn in front of Parliament Hill. Participants fried hot dogs and handed out baked goods under tarpaulins while two men on horseback trudged through the city, one of whom carried a flag in support of former US President Donald Trump.

The ‘Freedom Truck Convoy’ has attracted support from Trump and other Republicans.

In Toronto, hundreds of protesters gathered on the southern side of the Ontario Legislature and chanted “liberated” overtop reggae from speakers and sports signs that read “Freedom.”

Nearby, a few hundred health workers and supporters from the University of Toronto marched to the hospital row just south of the Legislature. They held posters that read ‘free-stupid’ and ‘N95 masks for everyone.’

Toronto police set up roadblocks throughout the city center, preventing protesters in trucks or cars from getting near the county legislature, which is near where five major hospitals are located.

Protesters also gathered in Quebec City, Fredericton and Winnipeg, with rallies also scheduled for Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and the U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta.

Police forces in these cities say they have learned from Ottawa’s predicament and have developed strategies designed to protect important infrastructure, such as vital traffic corridors and hospitals, and also prevent possible violence.

Police in Winnipeg, Manitoba, have indicted a 42-year-old man from Manitoba who allegedly drove his vehicle into the group of “freedom convoy” protesters gathered in the city. They said the incident took place late Friday, resulting in three men being treated on the spot for minor injuries, while a fourth man was taken to hospital and released. The accused faces several charges, including violence with weapons and dangerous operation of a means of transport.

“He was not really for or against any of the general views,” Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const said. Rob Carver.

Back in Ottawa, attorney Paul Champ filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of residents claiming millions of dollars in damages and an injunction against truck drivers to blow their horns at any time. The judge said he wants to give all parties to the trial time to submit all documents to him, adding that he plans to make a decision on the horns on Monday afternoon.

Many Canadians have been outraged by the rude behavior. Some protesters set off fireworks on the grounds of the National War Memorial late Friday. A series of bar signs and flags with swastikas last weekend comparing vaccine mandates to fascism.

Protesters have said they will not leave until all mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are gone. They also call for the removal of Trudeau’s government, although it is responsible for few of the measures, most of which were implemented by provincial governments.

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