The mayor of Canada’s capital city has declared a state of emergency after truckers shut down the city’s downtown for more than a week to protest COVID-19 rules.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement on Sunday that the demonstration posed a “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.”
“Mayor Jim Watson today declared a state of emergency for the City of Ottawa due to the ongoing demonstration,” the statement said.
“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. It also provides greater flexibility within the municipal administration to enable the City of Ottawa to manage business continuity for essential services for its residents and enables a more flexible procurement process, which could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders,” the statement said.
The mass of truckers, dubbed “Freedom Convoy,” began congregating in the city to protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers. But that was more than a week ago, and since then, the convoy has become a mass demonstration against the Canadian government over coronavirus regulations, including lockdowns and mandatory masks.
The protesters have virtually shut down downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill and are now demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau end all national mandates.
Speaking to Canadian radio station CFRA, Mayor Watson said the capital is “out of control” and that the truckers were behaving “insensitively” by “blaring horns and sirens, [setting off] fireworks and turning it into a party,” the New York Post reported.
“Clearly, we are outnumbered and we are losing this battle,” he said Sunday, the BBC reported, adding: “This has to be reversed — we have to get our city back.”
“The mayor did not give specific details about what measures he might impose, but police said on Sunday that they would step up enforcement, including possible arrests of those seeking to aid the protesters by bringing them supplies like fuel, toilet paper and food,” the BBC reported. “A state of emergency will give the city additional powers, including access to equipment required by frontline workers and emergency services.”
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government would not alter its policies in light of the protests.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the  election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said Sunday on CBC television, according to Reuters.
Trudeau, who has been in isolation after saying he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week, has ruled out deploying Canada’s military to break up the protest.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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