Canada’s provinces including Quebec and Alberta are ready to ease Covid restrictions despite Trudeau’s bid to smear the truckers as ‘swastika-wavers’ as Freedom Convoy protest enters day 12
- Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan have signaled plans to ease Covid measures
- It comes as Freedom Convoy protest that has paralyzed the capital enters day 12
- PM Trudeau has softened stance on truckers, saying he ‘understood’ frustration
- Day earlier he smeared protesters as ‘swastika-wavers’ in the House of Commons
Authorities in Canadian provinces Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan have signaled they are ready to ease Covid-19 restrictions as the truckers so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest enters day 12.
The move comes despite Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bid to smear the truckers as ‘swastika-wavers’ during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night.
Trudeau issued a stern warning during the debate that protests ‘had to stop’ but appeared to shift tone on Tuesday as truckers paralyzing the capital city showed no sign of backing down.
The PM said he understood ‘how frustrated everyone is’ and that ‘the time is coming when we will be able to relax’. But he failed to provide details on when restrictions would be eased despite provincial authorities already taking steps to remove the measures.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney of the right-wing United Conservative Party announced late on Tuesday that vaccination passports would cease to exist from midnight and that other health restrictions would be removed within three weeks.
Quebec Premier François Legault of the right-wing Coalition Avenir Quebec and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe of the right-wing Saskatchewan party made similar announcements on Tuesday in apparent defiance of Trudeau.
The Freedom Convoy began in January in western Canada – launched in anger at requirements truckers either be vaccinated, or test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canadian border.
Having snowballed into an occupation of the Canadian capital, the protest has sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad, and by Tuesday had forced the temporary closure of a key US border bridge, the busiest international land-border crossing in North America.
Authorities in Canadian provinces Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan in the country’s east have signaled they are ready to ease Covid-19 restrictions as the truckers so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest (pictured in Ottawa on Tuesday) enters day 12
The so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ (pictured in Ottawa on day 12 of the protest on Tuesday) began in January in western Canada – launched in anger at requirements truckers either be vaccinated, or test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canadian border.
The protest has sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad, and by Tuesday had forced the temporary closure of a key US border bridge, (pictured, truckers at Ambassador Bridge border crossing on Tuesday) the busiest international land-border crossing in North America
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters block a road leading to the Ambassador Bridge border crossing between Canada and the United States on Tuesday
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smeared the protesting truckers, which authorities have struggled to bring to heal, as ‘swastika-wavers’ during an emergency debate in the House of Commons late on Monday
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced an end to most restrictions in the province at a press conference late on Tuesday, citing lower hospitalization and infection rates as well as high vaccination rates.
He said: ‘Our approach to COVID must change as the disease changes. The restriction exemption program has served its useful purpose. It has done its job.’
‘Now is the time to begin learning to live with COVID,’ Kenney said. ‘These restrictions have led to terrible division.
Lawmaker from Trudeau’s own party RESIGNS from party job and slams prime minister for ‘dividing people’
A lawmaker from Justin Trudeau’s own party resigned from his post as the Quebec caucus chair on Tuesday after accusing the prime minister of dividing the people of Canada.
Liberal Quebec MP Joël Lightbound‘s announcement comes a day after the prime minister sparked outrage for branding anti-mandate protesters of the Freedom Convoy ‘swastika wavers’ after week-long demonstrations paralyzed the capital city of Ottawa.
He will remain in the Canadian Parliament.
Lightbound, 34, rebuked his leader Tuesday for dividing Canadians and said his government needs to create a road map for when coronavirus measures should be lifted.
He added that people who question existing policies should not be ‘demonized’ by their prime minister.
‘I can’t help but notice with regret that both the tone and the policies of my government have changed drastically since the last election campaign. It went from a more positive approach to one that stigmatizes and divides people,’ Lightbound said.
‘It’s becoming harder and harder to know when public health stops and where politics begins,’ he said. ‘It’s time to stop dividing Canadians and pitting one part of the population against another.’
‘We cannot remain at a heightened state of emergency forever. We have to begin to heal.’
He announced a three-phased timetable for removing restrictions starting from Monday when school children will no longer be required to wear masks in class.
Children under 12 will no longer have to wear masks in any setting, he added.
‘Given the very low threat that COVID-19 poses to the health of children, it is no longer justifiable after two long years to continue to disrupt and restrict the normal lives of kids,’ he said.
A second phase set to be implemented in three weeks, provided hospitalizations remain low, Kenney said, will see most of the remaining restrictions lifted.
Those include the general mask mandate, orders to work-from-home, all school restrictions and limits on capacities at venues and social gatherings.
The third phased will remove all the remaining restrictions, though Kenney warned this stage could be set back depending on the pressure on the province’s healthcare systems.
He was the latest provincial premier to announce a relaxation of restrictions after Quebec Premier François Legault of the right-wing Coalition Avenir Quebec party said most restrictions would be lifted in the next four weeks, by March 14.
And Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe of the right-wing Saskatchewan party, said earlier Tuesday that Covid-19 prevention measures would be lifted in a phased timetable.
Those include requiring testing or proof of vaccine status for businesses and public venues after Moe said the ‘policy had run its course.’
Vaccine mandates for travelers are set by Canada’s federal government, but most other Covid measures are the responsibility of provincial authorities.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau softened his tone on the protests, saying he understood ‘how frustrated everyone is’ and that ‘the time is coming when we will be able to relax.’
‘We’re all sick and tired of restrictions, of mandates, of having to make sacrifices,’ Trudeau said, adding, however, that vaccine mandates were the ‘way to avoid further restrictions.’
Authorities have struggled to bring the protests to heal and amid a state of emergency in Ottawa, federal police have deployed among demonstrators waving Canadian flags and anti-Trudeau placards.
The protests, now in their second week, have fast become a rallying cry for far-right and anti-vaccine groups.
The protest has sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad, and by Tuesday had forced the temporary closure of a key US border bridge (pictured, truckers at Ambassador Bridge border crossing on Tuesday)
From the original opposition to vaccine requirements for truckers, the movement has morphed into a broader protest against Covid-related restrictions and Trudeau’s Liberal government, and put a spotlight on pandemic curbs around the world
Federal police have deployed to support local authorities Ottawa, as they struggle to tame the trucker movement that has prompted a state of emergency in the Canadian capital
Briefing reporters Tuesday, Ottawa Deputy Police Chief Steve Bell said his agents had made 22 arrests to date.
‘Our message to demonstrators remains the same: Don’t come. And if you do, there will be consequences,’ he said.
Under light snowfall, the truckers have been warming themselves by open pit fires and playing street hockey.
Since a court ordered their incessant loud honking to stop, they have turned instead to revving the engines of their big rigs.
Protester Martin Desforges, 46, told AFP he was determined to stay ‘until the end,’ which organizers said would come only when all pandemic restrictions were lifted.
‘I’m against wearing a mask, all distancing measures and restaurant closures,’ he said.
‘Getting vaccinated should be a decision between a person and their doctor,’ echoed fellow protester John Hawley-Wight, ‘not the government.’
More than 80 per cent of Canadians aged five and up are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
‘The population is fed up. I’m fed up. We’re all fed up,’ said Francois Legault, premier of Quebec province, which announced it would lift most Covid restrictions by mid-March, with hospitalizations now trending downward.
‘Right now, we can take a calculated risk and finally turn the page,’ he said.
The massive cavalcade of trucks, pickups, and other vehicles has been wreaking havoc on downtown Ottawa since last weekend, deliberately blocking traffic and honking their horns almost non-stop around Parliament Hill
Vehicles displaying protest signs are seen outside Parliament Hill, as demonstrations by truckers and their supporters against COVID vaccine mandates continue in Ottawa
Roughly 50,000 Canadian truck drivers have showed up in Ottawa to protest against the prime minister’s new vaccine mandates and quarantine rules for drivers
Pick-up trucks and other smaller vehicles, above on Thursday, February 3, have joined the rally, displaying flags and picket signs reading: ‘Freedom’ and ‘No mandates’
A 78-year-old great-grandfather was cuffed and arrested in Ottawa on Sunday for honking his horn in support of demonstrators.
The rough arrest, which was filmed by a bystander, came a day before a ruling to outlaw honking during protests in the Canadian capital.
Footage shows Gerry Charlebois being pulled over by two officers for beeping his horn.
‘What did he do wrong?’ the bystander asked. ‘None of your f****** concern, man,’ one officer responded.
Officers went back and forth with onlookers and Charlebois.
Eventually an officer in a blue surgical mask grabbed Charlebois and tried to restrain him, bringing the vaccinated great-grandfather down to his knees in the middle of the street before handcuffing him against his van.
From the original opposition to vaccine requirements, the trucker movement has morphed into a broader protest against Covid-related restrictions and Trudeau’s Liberal government, and put a spotlight on pandemic curbs around the world.
Key US-Canada border crossings in Ontario and Alberta have been partially blocked by truckers and farmers, with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra warning Tuesday of ‘serious implications on our economy, on our supply chain.’
Inspired by the Canada protests, a convoy of trucks and campervans blocked streets near New Zealand’s parliament in Wellington Tuesday to protest against Covid restrictions and vaccinations, while calls have multiplied on social media for similar rallies in Europe and the United States.
The truckers have received US support ranging from former president Donald Trump to the billionaire Elon Musk, while at home, according to a Leger poll, 44 per cent of vaccinated Canadians sympathize with their ‘concerns and frustrations.’
Great-grandfather, 78, is handcuffed by Ottawa cops for HONKING his car horn in support of Freedom Convoy
An elderly man was cuffed and arrested in Ottawa for honking his horn in support of demonstrators on Sunday, a day before a judge outlawed honking, as protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates rage on in the Canadian capital.
A bystander filmed while two officers pulled over Gerry Charlebois, 78, for beeping his horn.
‘What did he do wrong?’ the bystander asked. ‘None of your f****** concern, man,’ one officer responded.
Officers went back and forth with onlookers and Charlebois. Eventually an officer in a blue surgical mask grabbed Charlebois and tried to restrain him, bringing the vaccinated great-grandfather down to his knees in the middle of the street before handcuffing him against his van.
Gerry Charlebois, 78, was brought to his knees and arrested in Ottawa on Sunday for allegedly honking his horn, a day before a judge outlawed honking in the city
In the six minute video posted to Youtube, the bystander filming is heard criticizing the officer for following the ruling and encouraging Charlebois to not give out his information.
‘You don’t have to answer his questions, sir,’ he tells Charlebois. He then tells the officer, ‘You’re abusing old men.’
The officer and Charlebois then walk back toward the trunk of the van. ‘Because I tooted the horn,’ Charlebois begins.
‘That is why you’re pulled over,’ the officer states.
‘It’s called communism. It’s communism. You don’t have to show anything. You didn’t do anything wrong,’ the man behind the camera continues.
The officer tells the man recording that it’s an offense to beep the horn. Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean granted a 10-day injunction the next day banning horn honking and air horn blowing.
‘The only purpose of this (horn blowing) is to bring attention to this protest,’ McLean said. ‘There’s no need for that anymore. The public is fully aware of what’s going on.’
As the officer waits for Charlebois to show his ID on Sunday, Charlebois turns around to walk away.
That’s when the officer grabs him by the arm and twists him, causing him to fall on one knee on the asphalt. He gets up and the officer presses him against his vehicle.
Charlebois is then walked back to the patrol car.
In a six minute video posted on YouTube, the man filming is heard criticizing the officers for following the ruling and encouraging the elderly man to not give out his information
The officer admitted that the man was being stopped because he honked his horn as the city deals with days of ongoing protests, led by truckers, against COVID restrictions
He was given a $118 ticket for ‘unnecessary noise,’ according to the Toronto Sun. While he wasn’t arrested, he sustained injuries to his arms, hands, shoulders and knees.
The bystander behind the camera yells, ‘They represent Trudaeu and the police chief, Sloly! That’s what they represent. Hate, division. You are not protecting and serving nobody.
‘This is b******. Communist f****** police,’ the man continues to yell.
‘I was in shock,’ Charlebois told the Toronto Sun. ‘When (the police) pulled me over, he told me I was in trouble for honking the horn.’
Charlebois said he drove to the area to look at the trucks and planned on parking his van and walking to Parliament Hill.
‘That’s why I put my wallet in the back of the van,’ he said. ‘I was hoping to go in there, but when I got there I saw all of the commotion. I decided it was too much so I just looked from the van and then started to head home.’
Though he was at the protest in support of other demonstrators, he says he’s fully vaccinated and plans to get his booster shot soon.
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