Trudeau denounces actions of demonstrators as anti-mandate protests rage on: ‘This has to stop’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again condemned the actions of protesters during an emergency debate at the House of Commons, saying the blockade and violent protesters aren’t the stories of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again condemned the actions of protesters during an emergency debate at the House of Commons, saying the blockade and violent protesters aren’t the stories of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his first time at the House of Commons since before the winter holiday break, Trudeau said late on Monday that Canadians chose science and vaccines when they re-elected his government, acknowledging that “we’re all tired of this pandemic,” but said that brutality and hate must stop.

He also says the federal government would provide whatever resources are required to deal with the protests.

“Tonight, we’re here because our democracy is working,” Trudeau stated. “This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians. But Canadians know that the way to get through it is to continue to listen to science, to continue to lean on each other, and continue to be there for each other.”

The House of Commons resumed sitting on January 31, but Trudeau was self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Protesters have said they will not leave until all vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. They also called for the removal of Trudeau’s government, though it is responsible for only a few of the measures, most of which were put in place by provincial governments.

The Prime Minister said the protests are not the way to get through the pandemic, adding we should be united “in a fight against the virus,” reiterating that vaccines will get Canadians through such a difficult time.

“This is a time to put national interests ahead of partisan interests,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to follow public health advice. We will continue to follow science… I know people are tired.”

Ottawa City Council voted to formally petition the federal government to assume responsibility for public safety in the parliamentary precinct. They are calling on the RCMP to take over the situation so local police can return to other residential communities.

Trudeau said that while these public health measures are not forever, respect for one another “has to be here to stay.”

A day after the city declared a state of emergency, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson pleaded for almost 2,000 extra police officers to help quell the raucous nightly demonstrations staged by the “Freedom Truck Convoy,” which has used hundreds of parked trucks to paralyze the Canadian capital’s business district.

Watson says these are complex and unprecedented times for his city, telling council on Monday that what initially began as a peaceful protest has evolved into a siege of the downtown area by anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators.

“This declaration serves notice to our residents that we will do everything in our power to take back the streets of Ottawa from the criminal activity and hooliganism that have plagued our city for the past nine days,” Watson said.

The protests have also infuriated people who live around downtown, including neighbourhoods near Parliament Hill, the seat of the federal government.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly called the demonstration an “unprecedented protest never seen in Canada” and acknowledged that authorities failed to plan for it to last more than three days.

Ottawa police were also investigating a fire at an apartment building that was apparently set by protesters. Matias Munoz said residents of the building south of Parliament Hill were already at their wits’ end Saturday night as the noise of the protest blared through their homes for the ninth night in a row.

When he came downstairs Sunday morning, Monoz said the carpet and floor were charred, and there were blackened fire-starter bricks strewn across the lobby.

Trudeau last week condemned the “hateful rhetoric” of those at the convoy, saying, “freedom of expression, assembly, and association are cornerstones of democracy. Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials are not.”

Photos surfaced of a flag with a swastika being waved during the rally. Staff at an Ottawa homeless shelter said they were harassed by protesters last weekend, demanding meals from the shelter’s kitchen.

“We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless,” said Trudeau.

“For those responsible for this behaviour, it needs to stop.”

With files from The Associated Press and Michael Ranger of CityNews

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