Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he asked his staff to find out if the city could use some of the funds collected in the crowdsourcing campaign to support the “Freedom Convoy” to cover the cost of policing for the protest.
“It shouldn’t be up to Ottawa taxpayers to pay for the kind of disruptions we’re facing right now,” he told CTV News on Jan. 31.
As of Jan. 31 morning, the GoFundMe campaign for the “Freedom Convoy 2022” had amassed over $9 million, with numerous single donations of over $10,000.
Watson said it “may be a long shot” to successfully obtain some of these funds.
Ottawa Police estimate the cost of policing the protest at over $800,000 a day, and the service requested the assistance of out-of-town police forces as back-up.
Watson is urging the truckers and protesters to pack their bags, telling them they’ve “made their point.”
“The public are completely fed up, as am I. We would love to see them go tomorrow. We think they should have gone yesterday.”
The convoy initially started as a protest over the requirement that all truck drivers crossing the U.S.-Canada border be vaccinated for COVID-19. By the time the convoy left the West Coast for Ottawa on Jan. 23, it had expanded to calling for an end to all pandemic restrictions.
The Epoch Times reached out to GoFundMe to find out if it had received inquiries from the City of Ottawa, but we didn’t hear back before publication.
Convoy organizers were also contacted but didn’t reply by the time of publication.
In a press conference on Jan. 30, organizer Benjamin Dichter said that the federal government “has done everything it can to ignore this problem,” and that the convoy organizers have established good relations with police. He also said that it’s important that people be allowed to have their own choice in choosing whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not, and it’s important for the mandates to be lifted.
He added that the trucks were not about to leave and were rather in it “for the long haul.”
Dichter said some of the trucks are meant to operate autonomously with various amenities and “they can sit for weeks and months.”
Ottawa Police said in a statement on Jan. 30 it was working with the organizers to facilitate the “safe departure” of the protesters.
As of Jan. 31 morning, Ottawa Police had not reported any arrests related to the protest, but it said via Twitter on Jan. 30 that “Several criminal investigations are under way in relation to the desecration of the National War Memorial/Terry Fox statue, threatening/illegal/intimidating behaviour to police/city workers and other individuals and damage to a city vehicle.”
The desecration refers to protesters climbing on top of the War Memorial and attaching a Canadian flag to the statue of Terry Fox.