OTTAWA – Freedom Convoy protesters returned to Canada’s Parliament Hill on Saturday – though this time on foot. Organizers were hoping for a million-man march. That aspiration did not come to pass.
They started with about 200. But as the day went on and the crowd continued to expand past 1,500 and it is perhaps not unforeseeable that this number could be attained with warmer temperatures on the horizon.
The group had first come to Ottawa in late January to protest COVID-19 mandates and truckers had parked their rigs along Wellington St. in the nation’s capital, a route that includes the country’s Parliament, Senate and Supreme Court. Their protest had polarized the local community and the political spectrum in Canada while garnering global media attention.
The Canadian Prime Minister had refused to meet with the truckers – labelling them “a small fringe minority” and Nazis – and instead eventually invoked the draconian Emergencies Act that forcibly removed the protesters, towed and impounded trucks, seized children and froze bank accounts. Trudeau rescinded the legislation after it was clear it did not have sufficient support in the Senate for passage.
After arresting and jailing several of the organizers, many of the truckers and supporters moved to the nearby town of Arnprior where they set up a camp at a private farm.
They decided to continue their protest in downtown Ottawa on foot. This weekend marked their return to the capital. Their day began at 10 a.m. with a march from Parliament Hill across a nearby bridge to the neighboring province of Quebec in show of national unity. At about the same time, a counter-protest began a march from Ottawa City Hall.
March organizer Colin “Big Bear” Ross told Human Events that the Freedom Convoy has “never left” Ottawa. No matter what happens, we’ll go back to our home towns, our home cities and we’ll keep on pushing on.”
“You know what. Spring’s coming here. You’re going to see more than a million people here. You’re going to see everybody rise up … Oh yeah, this is just the beginning. We’ve woken up a nation. The trucks might be gone but I see them already in my spirit. It’s absolutely amazing what’s happening here.”
Another protester, Edson, was carrying a flag that fused together the Canadian and U.S. banners. He said he was continuing to protest because he came to Canada to escape “tyranny” and he is seeing the “same signs” of authoritarianism in his adopted country and he feels “like I’ve got to do something” and he’ll “be coming every weekend” as long as protesters line up on Wellington St.
Edson says even if the COVID-19 mandates are being lifted, citizens must continue to be vigilant because if governments would impose vaccine mandates and economic lockdowns once, they will do it again if provided with the right excuse. “We owe it to the next generation.”
He says he is excited about the Freedom Convoy in the United States that will soon arrive in Washington. “Usually it is the Americans who take the initiative in everything, including the fight for freedom, but this time we are the ones who started the convoy.”
Edson says his wife lost her job due to vaccine mandates and he has lost his business as well but “as long as I have air in my lungs I am going to do what I have to do to stop this.”
Opponents of the Freedom Convoy also marched on Saturday, though fewer in numbers.
“We’re sending them a message that there needs to be accountability,” march organizer Hassan Husseini, a member of Community Solidarity Ottawa, told CBC News.
Those opposed to the convoy claim the protesters used hate symbols and subjected Ottawa residents to abuse and racial epithets.
Husseini told CBC that residents are “owed an explanation” as to why the convoy was allowed to protest for over a month. He called for a “no-holds-barred inquiry where nobody is protected and [which] is completely transparent.”
During their march, Freedom Convoy protesters carefully policed themselves. When one marcher began shouting at media cameraman and attempted to cover the lens of his camera with a Canadian flag, other protesters told the man to stop impeding the reporter’s actions as one cautioned, “You do something stupid like this, and that becomes the story. That’s all he’s going to report.” Another marcher told the malcontent to “stop being a clown.”
After returning to Parliament Hill, the protesters formed a human chain along the street to highlight the continued imprisonment of convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Pat King, among others. A contingent of protesters went to the Ottawa Detention Center to ask for their release based on their being “political prisoners.”