OTTAWA—After Ottawa police warned that those bringing fuel to the protest site at Parliament Hill could be arrested, some protesters on Feb. 7 started walking around the site with empty fuel containers.
“People got arrested last night for moving fuel, the diesel got confiscated. That’s not right, so this is our protest,” said Ian, who was holding an empty fuel container and would only give his first name.
Police said on Feb. 6 that anyone “attempting to bring material supports (gas, etc.) to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest.”
Police also said they made seven arrests throughout the day on Feb. 6 on mischief charges.
Also on Feb. 6, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency, which he said “highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government.” Following Watson’s announcement, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the federal government is proposing to convene a “trilateral table” with municipal and provincial governments to deal with the protesters.
The protest was started by truckers opposed to COVID-19 vaccination mandates for cross-border travel, but has since evolved into a major movement against all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. Many protesters say they will remain in Ottawa until the mandates are lifted.
Similar protests have started in different parts of Canada, including in Alberta, where a convoy of trucks and other vehicles is blocking a highway near the Canada-U.S. border.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), a legal group representing the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, said “police would be breaking the law if police attempt to intimidate or arrest people who bring food or other supplies to truckers who are peacefully exercising their Charter rights and freedoms in Ottawa.”
“People who bring food, water, gasoline or other supplies to peacefully protesting truckers are not breaking any law. There is no basis for this police threat,” JCCF lawyer Nicholas Wansbutter said in a statement on Feb. 7.