Lhe police, deployed en masse in the streets of Ottawa since Thursday, February 17, are preparing to intervene “imminently” to free the streets of the capital. The city has been blocked by anti-sanitary measures protesters for almost three weeks, a protest that is no longer “peaceful”, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “If you want to leave on your own, now is the time,” Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell told protesters, warning that this weekend would be “very different. of the last three.
For the first time since the beginning of the movement, groups of police officers positioned themselves in the morning in the streets of Ottawa facing the protesters and the hundreds of trucks blocking the streets. “We are ready to act to expel illegal protesters from our streets,” added the interim police chief, explaining that a security perimeter has been erected around the city center and that a hundred checkpoints allow control entry into the area. On the ground, the demonstrators continued to sound trumpets and horns, turning in circles, Canadian flag on the back or hanging on a hockey stick.
In the evening, the police made the first arrests: Tamara Lich, one of the organizers of the so-called “freedom” convoy, was arrested by the police, the official account of the movement said in a tweet, video at l ‘support. In the images, we see her getting in handcuffs in a police car, surrounded by two police officers, and shouting to her companions: “Hold on! A little earlier, another leader, Chris Barber, had been arrested, a calm arrest there also filmed and posted on social networks by members of the movement.
The move ‘undermines Canada’s reputation abroad’
In a letter to the Premiers of the provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the movement “threatens democracy” and undermines “Canada’s reputation abroad”. Bank accounts of individuals and businesses linked to the blockage have been frozen. According to Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, illegal border blockades have cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars. The demonstrators, determined to stay “until the end”, received an ultimatum from the police, who went around the trucks to distribute a leaflet ordering them to “leave the premises”.
A mix of rain and snow expected on Wednesday and in the coming days could complicate operations for police, who face a complex and perilous situation to dislodge protesters smoothly. The city of Ottawa, the province of Ontario and the whole of Canada are under a state of emergency due to this unprecedented protest movement, party of the opposition of truckers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to cross the border between Canada and the United States. Initially minimized by the authorities, the movement has spread in recent weeks to all health measures and, for many demonstrators, to a rejection of the government of Justin Trudeau.