Crowds of protesters demanding an end to all COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates have swept through Ottowa, taking control of much of the space outside the Canadian parliament building before the weekend. On Friday and Saturday, in one of the largest operations undertaken by police in the country, hundreds of officers worked to disperse the demonstrators who had blocked many of the city’s roads.
Forces included officers from riots squads and mounted police regiments, and the latest counts show that 91 people have been arrested and 57 vehicles towed away by authorities.
The rapid clearing and detaining of protestors was a decisive move against protests that have rumbled on for weeks in the country.
But John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham, called the demonstrators “freedom protesters” who Mr Trudeau should “listen to”.
He posted on Twitter: “Canada’s PM is dividing his country by his strong-arm tactics against freedom protesters.
“In a democracy leaders need to find a way to allow protests or listen to protesters whilst keeping roads open.”
Last week, Mr Trudeau triggered laws that infuse his government with extensive powers to ban people from gathering in certain places.
The Emergencies Act will remain in place for a month to combat what the Canadian Prime Minister called an increasing number of “illegal and dangerous” blockades across Canada.
He said the new measures would only apply to certain regions and would expire after the designated time limit.
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It does require oversight from parliament, and cannot infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the Canadian government will have the power to freeze the bank accounts of anyone associated with a slew of protracted blockades on key border crossing points from Canada into the US.
The move has proved highly controversial, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association warning it “threatens our democracy and our civil liberties”.
The disruption began life began as a “trucker” revolt associated with right-wing political views that has grown into a protest against all coronavirus laws and Mr Trudeau’s leadership.
They called for the end to all coronavirus restrictions and mandatory vaccination against COVID-19.
They zeroed in on a requirement in Canada that all cross-border truck drivers must be vaccinated, although official data shows around 90 percent of truck drivers are already fully vaccinated.
They shut a border crossing between the US and Canada through the Ambassador Bridge, which is a major connecting route between the two countries.