Ottawa Mayor Declares State Of Emergency Due To Protest Against Vaccine Mandate

“We do not have sufficient resources to adequately and effectively address this situation,” the Ottawa police chief said Saturday.
Demonstrators gather for a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in downtown Toronto on February 5, 2022.
Demonstrators gather for a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in downtown Toronto on February 5, 2022.
Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ottawa’s mayor declared a state of emergency on Sunday, saying the city was in the midst of a “serious emergency” due to an ongoing spate of antigovernment protests that have paralyzed large swaths of the city for 10 days.

Mayor Jim Watson said the decision reflected the Canadian capital’s need for support from other jurisdictions to deal with the the protests. The “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations began last month and were largely linked to Canada’s vaccine mandate for truckers working between the country and the U.S. Since then, the protest has grown to include all public health measures related to the coronavirus pandemic as well as broader political frustrations from right-wing factions.

“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,” the city said in a statement Sunday.

Officials added that the move provides flexibility for the city to purchase equipment for frontline workers and first responders.

Protesters said they won’t leave the city until all restrictions linked to the ongoing pandemic are lifted. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ruled out using the military to disband the convoy, but local authorities said they are overwhelmed by the protesters.

“We do not have sufficient resources to adequately and effectively address this situation,” Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said Saturday, per The New York Times. “This is a siege.”

The demonstrators have blocked roads in the capitol, driven onto the sidewalks and aggressively honked truck horns for hours on end. These actions have sparked deep resentment among residents in the city.

“It’s an absolute disgrace when they’re bringing in bouncy castles and hot tubs and saunas,” Watson said on CTV on Sunday. “Complete insensitivity to the people who are living through this terrible situation in the residential neighborhoods.”

Protestors show their support for the Freedom Convoy of truck drivers.
Protestors show their support for the Freedom Convoy of truck drivers.
Arthur Mola/Invision via Associated Press

The protests have expanded to other cities in Canada, including smaller demonstrations in Toronto and Vancouver. The truckers’ convoy has also attracted support from Republican lawmakers in the U.S., including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Protesters had even raised more than $8 million in donations on GoFundMe before the platform removed the fundraiser.

In contrast, Ontario Premier Doug Ford described the protest as an “occupation,” according to CBC News. The head of the Ottawa Police Services Board referred to the demonstration as an “insurrection.”

The Ottawa Police Service said Sunday it had issued more than 450 tickets, saying some demonstrators had “exhibited extremely disruptive and unlawful behavior” that presented risks to public safety. Those violations included illegal use of fireworks and a bevy of traffic violations. At least 11 protest-related investigations have been opened by the department that are related to hate crimes.

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