February 21, 2022

Trudeau will address Canadians as anti-vaccine mandate protest enters 3rd day in Ottawa | CBC News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding a news conference this morning as protesters demonstrating against vaccine mandates continue to gridlock part of the city.

A cacophony of honking and cheering filled the city for two days over the weekend as thousands of protesters voiced their opposition to various vaccine mandates.

Some honking resumed sporadically in the early hours of Monday and vehicles continue to block streets in the downtown core.

Trudeau, who was not at his home in Rideau Cottage over the weekend and his office would not discuss his whereabouts for security reasons, will make remarks and take questions from reporters at 11:15 a.m. ET as the House of Commons returns after the holiday break.

The prime minister remains in isolation after one of his children tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Trucks are seen parked on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa on Jan. 30. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The protest was initially focused on the federal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, but it has expanded into a movement against broader public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ottawa police described the protests as mainly peaceful but said Sunday they were investigating a number of incidents, including threatening behaviour, public mischief and dangerous operation of a vehicle.

Swastikas spotted

Police said several incidents Saturday roundly condemned as disrespectful, including protesters jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and adorning a statue of Terry Fox with anti-vaccine material and an upside down Canadian flag, are also under review. 

At least one Confederate flag was spotted in the crowd, a holdover from the U.S. Civil War that is often associated with racist and far-right elements. Swastikas were also spotted on a few flags and signs.

WATCH | Convoy of protesters represent a range of grievances and demands:

Frustration unifies protesters on Parliament Hill

The convoy of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill represent a range of grievances and demands. Some want an end to vaccine mandates and restrictions, while the people behind Canada Unity, which helped organize the convoy, want the current federal government replaced. 2:59

While the crowds began to dissipate Sunday night, some, including the organizers behind a GoFundMe page that has amassed more than $8 million to support the convoy, said the goal is to create a logistics nightmare for the government and force it to repeal vaccine mandates.

“For those who choose to remain, we’ll make that assessment once we understand who is still here, what purposes and what public safety risks are associated to that,” said Chief Peter Sloly.

MPs are set to return to question period Monday, but Government House leader Mark Holland said some will likely do so virtually.

“We have important work to accomplish for Canadians in Parliament, and we’re looking forward to getting this done and delivering results,” said a statement from his office Sunday.

“We’ve already passed a motion that gives MPs the flexibility to work in a Hybrid House in this sitting — which remains in effect until June. Some MPs will be in the chamber on Monday and beyond, and others will participate virtually.”

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