The anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa that started last weekend is not yet over.
The protest was initiated by the Freedom Convoy to go against not just the vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, but also all the other restrictions implemented to combat COVID-19 in the country.
Many protesters are still on the streets of downtown Ottawa, even after six days of protesting against the mandates related to COVID-19. Many residents are still affected by the disruption that the anti-vaccine mandate protest continues to cause in their daily lives. They wonder until when the police will tolerate their gathering around Parliament Hill and, if the protesters don’t leave on their own accord, how the police will put an end to this.
Apart from the protesters rallying for their cause, numerous residents are also making their voices heard. They are reaching out to government officials and the police to put an end to the noise and disorder that the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa is causing.
A Peaceful End to the Anti-Vaccine Mandate Protest in Ottawa is Favorable
However, some are also encouraging authorities not to use force in doing so. Jack Rozdilsky, an associate professor of disaster and emergency management at York University, said that “it’s in everyone’s best interest that they bring this to some type of peaceful closure.”
Rozdilsky said that he would like to see how the police will respond to the situation, specifically in managing the number of protesters and ensuring that the protesters do not commit any unlawful or harmful actions.
He says there must be something done to effectively manage the situation and minimize the effects of the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa.
However, he still believes that the current situation does not require the use of excessive force as of now because doing so will not give the authorities the result that they want and would probably cause more damage than it should.
It would be best for everyone if the protesters decided to leave the place on their own accord. The use of police force, heavy equipment, and other possible violent measures to control the crowds would be out of character for how Canada handles such situations. Doing so would be similar to how the paramilitaries act.
This does not disregard, however, the fact that authorities do have the necessary resources and skills to use force if the situation calls for it. The Ottawa Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Parliamentary Protective Service, and many more police services are currently working together on the ground where the anti-vaccine mandate protest is. This will provide enough manpower to make arrests and tow trucks.
Everyday Lives Continue to be Disrupted
The protesters from the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa have been going around the residential areas in their vehicles. Through the use of truck horns and collective chanting, loud noises are made so that they can fight for what they’re standing up for.
Trucks are not just making noise; they’re also causing traffic congestion in areas and making it very difficult for citizens to move around downtown Ottawa. Some businesses had to stop their operations because it was too difficult for employees to get to work.
A COVID-19 vaccine clinic and a nearby elementary school also faced the same challenges. They could not effectively perform their usual activities because of the disruption brought about by all the noise and traffic.
With the disruption caused by the protest, citizens residing in the area are also expressing their anger at the police. They feel as if the police have not done anything to put a stop to the protest and have just stood at their stations.
Discussing All Options to Put an End to the Protest
The police are considering “all options” to end the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa and making protesters leave the area.
One of which includes setting a deadline for protesters to leave. If they do not comply with this, they have to face the consequences of their decisions. This is especially applicable to protesters who claim that they have no plans to leave until what they’re protesting for is given to them.
The president of PY Safety, Pierre-Yves Bourduas, says that “they will have to either be nudged to leave, or if it doesn’t work then there are municipal bylaws that could apply, [where] they’re offered an option of having to depart within a certain time frame or else [a] fine will ensue.”
When the protesters leave, the officials will then be faced with the challenge of removing the vehicles that have been hindering access to the streets.
Const. Amy Gagnon from the Ottawa Police Service says that they are still in communication with the organizers of the protest. A peaceful and safe exit of the crowd is aimed for.
Rozdilsky said that the police need to consider that the protesters seem to be “an amorphous group having a social identity of its own.”
One wrong move by the police can turn the protest into something that they have been trying to avoid. The actions of the police may result in the misplacement of the anger of the crowd, at which point they might shift their protest from the COVID-19 regulations to the police themselves.
Some protesters said that they intend to force government officials to reverse their implementation of the vaccine mandate by creating a logistical nightmare.
On the other hand, Canada Unity demands far more than that. They want government officials to step down from their positions if they remain firm in the implementation of the vaccine mandate.
The police are finding it hard to predict how the protest will end. This is because the nature of the goals voiced by the protesters is unclear.
Bourduas said that “law enforcement agencies have to actually have a sense as to how this whole thing will unfold, which hasn’t been the case.” Without this, it becomes more difficult to manage the situation.
Three arrests have been made in relation to individuals committing hate crimes and desecration of public property. Instances of protesters threatening police officers and employees of a local soup kitchen have been reported.
There is some good news, though. As of yesterday, Peter Sloly, the Ottawa Chief of Police, said that riots, injuries, and deaths have not occurred in the conduct of the anti-vaccine mandate protest.
The protesters seem to be bringing in guns today, according to the Ottawa police. Sloly said that “we have had an indication around firearms coming into this jurisdiction as part of this demonstration as much as a week and a half ago.”
They also said that there are groups from the USA that seem to be involved in the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Ottawa. Many more protesters are expected to come and join in the protest in the following days. Apart from manpower, the groups also provided the protesters with financial assistance so that the protest could continue and not be hindered by limitations in funds. Fuel and food are expected to arrive as well for the demonstrators.
Alberta’s Royal Canadian Mountain Police said that “what may have begun as a peaceful assembly quickly turned into an unlawful blockade.”
Sloly said that the police are doing the best that they can to continue to be ethical and responsible in managing the situation. They abide by the law when coming face-to-face with the protesters. But this may not be the case anymore if the protests continue to go on in the coming days and even weeks. He said that there might not be a police solution anymore.
The fate of the protest will unfold in the coming days. With pressure coming from many sides, such as the police and government, citizens, businesses, and protesters, tension may increase. However, it is hoped that the protest will end without the need for violence.