Trucker protest hits second day in Ottawa

One day before Parliament is set to resume, Ottawa’s downtown core surrounding Parliament Hill remains nearly impassible due to the second day of the trucker convoy rally, as protesters, vehicles and trucks gridlock parts of the city.

Ottawa Police said on Twitter that “several” criminal investigations are underway in relation to acts described by police as “desecration” to several monuments in the capital as well as “threatening/illegal/intimidating behaviour to police/city workers and other individuals and damage to a city vehicle.”

Police urged the public to report any incidents directly to the authorities.

In an update released to media Sunday, Ottawa police said their priority remains management of traffic issues, “keeping peace and order” and addressing behaviour they deem threatening or “high risk.”

Acknowledging that many residents are contacting police and City of Ottawa staff for complaints related to parking, noise and inappropriate behaviour, police said they have to focus on the protest due to safety concerns.

“Police resources are fully stretched and fully engaged,” the statement read. Police also said they will begin working in tandem with city resources to move vehicles out of the downtown core into Sunday evening, and have already being working to “facilitate the departure of individuals who are wanting to leave the area.”

A few streets remain closed, with police working to facilitate traffic for residents and businesses, while some of the protesters’ actions from Saturday have dominated social media and public discussion.

Protesters who jumped on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were unilaterally condemned by top defence officials, with Defence Minister Anita Anand calling their behaviour “beyond reprehensible.”

“I was deeply disturbed by the events yesterday at Parliament Hill and at the war memorial, I take very seriously… the fundamental values of democracy, freedom and freedom of the press…I believe we must show respect at all times to the individuals who died for our country,” Anand said at a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday. “I was deeply disturbed when I saw those images.”

The police statement said that national monuments would be protected and that barricades have been installed to prevent vehicle access to the path in front of the National War Memorial.

Flowers were seen placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Sunday. There also appeared to be urine on base of the war memorial.

Others who adorned a statue commemorating Terry Fox with an upside-down Canadian flag and a sign opposing mandates, were called out by Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, who said their actions were “completely unacceptable.”

Some protesters were seen carrying flags with hateful imagery scrawled on them such as a swastika. Several protesters carried large flags emblazoned with “F*** Trudeau” or wore or carried signs that featured a yellow star.

Speaking on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said that “most credible trucking organizations have distanced themselves from this protest,” and that while the protest was going on there were vaccinated truckers doing their jobs delivering goods for Canadians.

And while Alghabra said he shared the frustrations about restrictions and wanted to see the end of the pandemic, he called some of the protesters’ behaviour on Parliament Hill “alarming.”

“Some of the images and slogans we’re seeing …we have swastika flags, confederate flags, and some are calling for the overthrow of the government…it is disturbing,” he said.

Elsewhere in the city, Shepherds of Good Hope, a shelter that works with vulnerable and homeless populations in Ottawa reported harassment by members of the convoy at a soup kitchen Saturday in a series of tweets.

They said the harassment “caused a significant strain to their operations at an already difficult time.”

In a statement released to media on Sunday, Shepherds of Good Hope said the “verbal harassment” and pressure from protesters seeking meals from the soup kitchen “continued for several hours” and that protesters’ vehicles blocked their ambulance drop-off zone for approximately 12 hours before being towed.

The statement said that one of the community members who was attempting to use the soup kitchen was assaulted by protesters and when a security guard, who is a member of a visible minority, attempted to help them, they “had racist abuse hurled at them.”

“Shepherds of Good Hope had no desire to comment on this protest. However, we felt compelled to correct disinformation on protest communications channels that we were ‘happy to feed the patriots.’ This was not the case,” the statement reads.

Later on Sunday afternoon the shelter said on Twitter that their website had been inundated with donations following the news of what occurred.

The trucker convoy’s GoFundMe page, which raised more than $8 million throughout the course of their journey, has listed an itinerary for Sunday which lists an 11 a.m. EST “Prayer for Unity Service” being held by Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt at Parliament Hill, followed by a 1 p.m. EST press conference at an undisclosed location.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, who has been a steady presence at the protests, asked people to join the “PPC March to Parliament Hill” Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. EST.


An earlier version of this story referred to Hildebrandt as a Mennonite pastor, it has been corrected to show he belongs to the Church of God.

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