As truckers converge on Ottawa, leaders are condemning some supporters' far-right rhetoric.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) is warning of possible traffic on Quebec roads as a trucker convoy heads towards Ottawa on Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28. The provincial police force says it's deploying officers to affected areas to "avoid any overflow" as truck drivers approach the capital. It's asking residents to plan their trips before departing.
Drivers are converging on Ottawa in protest of the federal government's vaccination requirement for truck drivers entering Canada. Unvaccinated truckers crossing the border are still allowed in the country if they're citizens, permanent residents, or registered under the Indian Act, but have to follow testing and quarantine requirements. These rules took effect on January 15.
Reports suggest that the convoy consists of truckers from throughout Canada. A Facebook group called Le Convoi pour la Liberté 2022 has identified meeting points and routes for drivers coming from Quebec.
It's unclear how many people are actually participating in the demonstration planned for Ottawa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that "close to 90%" of Canadian truckers are vaccinated. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has condemned the protest, saying in a January 22 statement that blockades of public roadways — "especially those that interfere with public safety — are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed."
There have also been reports that far-right and white-nationalist individuals and groups are associated with the event.
Trudeau called these groups a "small fringe minority" using "unacceptable" rhetoric. Their views, he said, "do not represent the views of Canadians."
Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, told CBC Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa that the messaging used by people supporting the convoy on social media has obscured the original goal of the demonstration.
Though Millian said his organization is against the vaccine mandate for cross-border trucking, "this convoy seems to have [morphed] into a kind of protest against all vaccine and COVID-related shutdowns and lockdowns."
"We're seeing signs calling our government communists and Nazis and comparing it to the Holocaust," he continued. "If you're comparing this to the Holocaust, you need to educate yourself on what the Holocaust was."
"Right now the voices we're hearing are the ones that are providing far-right views."
Ottawa Police Service Chief Peter Sloly said Friday he expects the trucker protest to peak over the weekend and possibly continue into the next week.
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