The first trucks in a national convoy that was organized to protest the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates are due to arrive in the Ottawa area today.
The convoy of big rigs has been gaining participants and supporters as it rolls across the country from all directions for a weekend rally in the capital.
In Toronto Thursday crowds of people lined part of the route, waving Canadian flags and holding up signs denouncing the vaccine mandate as they cheered the truckers on.
Some with extreme, far-right views have latched onto the protest, which has been condemned by the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
Many truckers have posted on social media they are continuing to do their jobs and that the convoy doesn’t speak for them.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has warned people not to dismiss the protesters as simple freedom fighters, saying nobody wants to see the Parliament Hill demonstration descend into anti-government violence.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Thursday that he would meet with some of the truckers, adding that he and his MP’s have long stood against the vaccine mandate they now face. But he also denounced those involved in the convoy who are espousing racist and extremist ideas.
Meanwhile, police in Ottawa stressed they would not tolerate any criminal behaviour as they made plans to deal with thousands of demonstrators at Saturday’s so called “freedom rally.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the convoy and protests are not solely about the cross-border vaccine mandate for truck drivers, but for all COVID-19 mandates nationally.