Canadian truckers' protest expands to entire country
The trucker rally that began more than a week ago in Ottawa has now spread to the entire country. Demonstrators again packed the downtown area of the Canadian capital, forcing the mayor to declare a state of emergency.
But similar rallies, of varying sizes, were also held in provincial capitals to protest against pandemic restrictions. The truckers and their supporters also brought their protest to Toronto.
The sound of trucker horns is what residents of Ottawa have been hearing for more than a week. Now it’s in Toronto, as truckers and their supporters converged on the Ontario legislature, Queenspark, in the heart of the city.
But police, forewarned by the Ottawa experience, erected barricades and closed off all streets leading to the legislature. Officials said Toronto Police would take appropriate action
That prevented vehicles from getting there, so truckers parked them where they could and walked, and still it was enough to cause gridlock and bring the center of Toronto to a standstill.
The major concern for authorities was the proximity of Queenspark to several of Toronto’s major hospitals — an area called Hospital Row — and how that would be affected by the protests.
Police kept access to the hospitals clear and healthcare workers staged their own counter protest in front of a hospital.
This protest began in opposition to a recent requirement that all long truckers who haul goods back and forth across the U.S. border be fully vaccinated. It has since widened to become a protest against all pandemic restrictions.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford suggested the so-called Freedom Convoy protest was ill-timed, since COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted.
For the most part, the Toronto protest was peaceful. Two men were arrested, one for setting off what police said was a smoke bomb.
By Sunday, the crowds had diminished, but road closures and a heavy police presence will continue. The plan is to limit disruptions to the downtown and protect access to Hospital Row.