The latest on protests against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa and beyond
Published February 17, 2022 at 10:40 am
The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, in Ottawa and various locations across Canada, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. All times eastern:
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says in the House of Commons that the so-called freedom convoy has had a profound, negative and detrimental impact to public safety across the country.
Mendicino is speaking in a debate on motions he tabled Wednesday on invoking the Emergencies Act and the specific measures in the act.
He says blockades at border crossings in Coutts, Alta., Emerson, Man., and Windsor, Ont., cost the Canadian economy hundreds of millions of dollars a day and hurt families and workers trying to get by.
Mendicino acknowledged that progress has been made to reopen those border crossings, thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, but this progress is not a given and the government needs to continue to guarantee it.
He says he has heard some members on the opposition side try to minimize and generalize what is happening at an ongoing protest in downtown Ottawa as legitimate.
He says it’s not legitimate or about freedom — it’s illegal, and residents have been “terrorized,” including those at an apartment building that was the site of an attempted arson.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is speaking in the House of Commons about why his government invoked the Emergencies Act to quell protests that have seized downtown Ottawa.
He says he wants to reassure Canadians that when the act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continues to protect their individual rights.
He says the government is not limiting freedom of expression or the right to peaceful protest but in fact reinforcing values and institutions that keep Canadians safe.
He says the blockades are illegal and a threat to Canada’s economy and public safety.
The police presence in downtown Ottawa is growing as efforts to begin clearing a three-week long occupation around Parliament Hill appear imminent but the antigovernment demonstrators aren’t buckling.
With rain and sleet falling on the nation’s capital, workers began erecting fencing around Parliament Hill and several other buildings downtown, including the Senate, around 8 a.m.
Larger numbers of police in bright yellow vests are present in the downtown core, most of them moving in groups, handing out more leaflets and warning those present to leave or they could be arrested.
The warnings appeared to be having little effect on people who remained, with one woman operating two barbecues yelling out the national anthem in French while police stood nearby.
On Wellington Street as police tried to give leaflets to some demonstrators, they were swarmed and police backed off quickly.
The police are warning with leaflets or verbally that people must leave or they might be arrested and criminally charged, their vehicles and other property seized, their driver’s licence suspended, commercial vehicle registration cancelled, and personal or business bank accounts frozen.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.
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