As trucking convoy approaches Ottawa, police warn of traffic slowdowns

The slowdowns could affect all highways across eastern Ontario between Thursday and Saturday, Ontario Provincial Police tweeted.

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A convoy of Ottawa-bound commercial truckers protesting vaccine mandates could snarl the city’s downtown core for days, police warned on Wednesday.


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Describing the rolling protest as a “very fluid situation,” Chief Peter Sloly said Ottawans should avoid travelling downtown when the truckers arrive, which could be as soon as Friday with disruptions possibly continuing all weekend long.

“If you don’t need to travel into the core for business or for the essentials, for groceries, doctor, that type of thing, avoid it if you can to relieve those arteries in and around the downtown core,” Sloly said.

Police were monitoring the incoming convoys and communicating with the organizers of the main protest. They were planning for the arrival of around 1,000 to 2,000 vehicles, OPS officials said at a special Wednesday meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board. But police warned that the protest could be accompanied by other elements, including counter-protests, which are harder to predict.


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“There are increasing amounts of other interested parties who are considering if not actually articulating coming to the nation’s capital and participating in a range of related demonstrations and in some cases counter-demonstrations,” Sloly said.

The OPS would evaluate the risk associated with any road blockades that the trucking convoy may create, Sloly added, indicating that the service would not tolerate blockades that prevent access to critical public infrastructure.

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Current police intelligence indicated the main protest, the “freedom convoy,” had so far been peaceful and cooperative with police and city officials in other jurisdictions. “We don’t have any risk information to suggest that people or business owners need to barricade themselves into their homes or businesses or that they need to close their businesses if they’re operating,” Sloly said.


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The truckers have signalled that their destination will be Parliament Hill, where they will protest against vaccine mandates. The Parliamentary Protection Service said in a statement it was aware of the protest and was closely monitoring the situation.

Several city councillors expressed concerns about the possible impact of the protest on local residents and businesses to police at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m actually on the facebook of some of the convoys, they are talking about ‘hold the line until they resign,’ ‘permanent gridlock zone around Ottawa.’ It’s not just your regular protest coming to the city. People are concerned,” said Somerset ward city councillor Catherine McKenney.

In an earlier statement posted on their website, McKenney said several members of the group bound for Ottawa were connected to “militant racist, sexist, and homophobic groups.”


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“They are not here to only raise voices against vaccination mandates,” the statement said, “but to also fuel hatred against the very fabric of our society.”

Acting OPS deputy chief Trish Ferguson said bylaw and police officers would be in the area and available to local businesses. Police would be “placing an emphasis on proactive engagements through police liaison teams to facilitate communication, de-escalations and peaceful resolutions to rising incidents,” she said.

Ontario Provincial Police warned that the convoy could cause slowdowns on all highways across eastern Ontario beginning as soon as Thursday.

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OPP officers were preparing for the impact of the protest, OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson said in an email. “We are advising the public that protest activities may interrupt the normal flow of traffic,” he said. “The OPP is working with those involved to minimize the impact on the travelling public and to ensure order and public safety. This includes talking to organizers to ensure the mandate of public/traffic safety is met and the events/activities are orderly and peaceful.”


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Most of the truckers will arrive in Ottawa on Saturday, according to a countdown to their arrival posted on the website There are separate convoys headed to the capital, according to the website, with trucks originating in both western and eastern Canada.

Organizers have posted social media updates showing a long stream of commercial vehicles, many of them adorned with Canadian flags, signage protesting vaccine mandates, and expletives towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is unclear exactly how many commercial vehicles make up the convoys.

Canada imposed a vaccine mandate for the trucking industry earlier this month. Unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine. Both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition have asked the government to reverse its policy, warning of supply chain disruptions.


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The Canadian Trucking Alliance has released a statement disavowing the protests, saying that the vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated.

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In a message posted on the Instagram account “freedomconvoy22,” the organizers of the convoy said they were not against vaccination. “Many of us are vaccinated,” the message read. “We simply believe every Canadian should be free to choose and face no discrimination or restrictions on their freedom due to their choice.”

The statement also insisted that the truckers would not block emergency vehicles.

This newspaper reached out to the protest organizers but has not received a response.



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