Thousands of truckers and others held a loud yet peaceful protest in Canada’s capital of Ottawa on Jan. 29 and 30 against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as police in the capital reported no incidents of violence
The “Freedom Convoy” started as a rally of truckers who opposed the mandates, but it quickly morphed into something much broader—with people from all walks of life taking to the streets against vaccine passports, requirements, and other restrictions that have been handed down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent months.
“I’m not able to work no more because I can’t cross the border,” said Csava Vizi, a trucker from Windsor, Ontario, who noted that he was the family’s sole breadwinner.
“It’s not just about the vaccines,” said Daniel Bazinet, owner of Valley Flatbed and Transportation in Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast. “It’s about stopping the public health mandates altogether.”
“Myself and a lot of other people are here because we’re just sick of the vaccine mandates and the lockdowns,” said Brendon from Ottawa, who declined to give his last name.
He was carrying a sign reading, “Justin Trudeau makes me ashamed to be a Canadian.”
Ottawa police said the protests were peaceful and that there “have been no incidents of violence or injuries reported.”
“I’m locked into my own country right now,” Tom Pappin, an unvaccinated man who came from just outside Ottawa, told The Associated Press. “I can’t go on a holiday. I can’t go to a restaurant, I can’t go bowling. I can’t go to a movie. You know, these are things [that show you] it’s just gotten out of control.”
Pappin said he estimates that attendees of the rally and protest are likely to stay parked near Parliament until the vaccine mandates are lifted.
But Trudeau has said he believes that Canadians aren’t represented by this “very troubling, small but very vocal minority of Canadians who are lashing out at science, at government, at society, at mandates, and public health advice.”
The prime minister’s itinerary for the day typically states that he’s at home if he’s in Ottawa. On Jan. 29, it said he was in the “National Capital Region” amid reports that he and his family were moved to an undisclosed location.
The protest comes days after his office confirmed that one of Trudeau’s children contracted COVID-19 and that he’s isolating and working remotely.
It has also attracted the attention of former President Donald Trump, who spoke at a Texas rally on Jan. 29 and declared his support for the truckers.
“We want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way,” Trump said in Conroe, Texas. “They are doing more to defend American freedom than our leaders by far.”
Before that, billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated his support for the Canadian truckers to his 71.8 million followers on Twitter.
Reuters contributed to this report.