After the cross-country “Freedom Convoy” made its way to Ottawa on Jan. 29 for its ongoing protest, other convoys are converging on other cities this weekend, notably Quebec City and Toronto, to call for the end of pandemic restrictions.
Participants from Quebec’s remote northeastern region of Côte-Nord started arriving in Quebec City on Thursday and staged an initial protest, and convoys from other regions of the province arrived Friday evening.
Bernard Gauthier, an organizer of the protest in Quebec, told Théovox Actualités on Thursday that the reason for organizing local actions was not to split the movement, but rather to allow people who could not make it to Ottawa to get involved.
“Thank you to the families, we’re doing this for you, and you’re getting involved,” he said. “Please come see us tomorrow, come show support.”
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters Friday he would not tolerate a repeat of what transpired in Ottawa, with trucks blocking parts of the downtown core, saying tow trucks were ready to intervene.
In Toronto, Mayor John Tory also said he wants to avoid the development of a similar situation to that in Ottawa.
Videos circulating on social media show that a number of trucks and farm tractors have already arrived in Toronto.
NOW – Trucks and farm tractors begin to arrive in #Toronto.pic.twitter.com/AlPtDVhfdn
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) February 4, 2022
Tory said in a press conference on Feb. 4 that his city is used to hosting many protests, including weekly ones against pandemic measures, and even though he disagrees with those views, he “respects the right of all Canadians to peaceful protest.”
“We’ve seen many peaceful and respectful protests in our city and it is my hope, if people are determined to gather, to protest this weekend in our city of Toronto, that a commitment to respectful, peaceful protest will be demonstrated.”
Tory said he’s been in contact with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, and Premier Doug Ford, who’ve all offered to help.
“We live in a democracy. If people want to come down and protest, God bless ’em. I understand their frustration, I really do,” Ford told Hamilton radio station CHML.
Ford struck a different tone on the Ottawa protest during a press conference related to the meeting of the premiers, calling it an “occupation.”
Out west, a poster circulating on social media is calling for an “Island Convoy” on Vancouver Island on Feb. 5 that will end at the legislature in Victoria. Similar to the Freedom Convoy, the poster says the intention is to remain in place “until the mandates are lifted.”
Another B.C. event announced on social media is called “Stand United ‘The Media is the Virus’ Convoy.”
Participants are invited to gather in Langley before driving to Vancouver in a convoy.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.