'Absolute disgrace:' Ottawa mayor blasts Conservative MPs for visiting 'Freedom Convoy' protesters
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson is calling on a Conservative MP to apologize for a supportive visit to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters that have been occupying downtown Ottawa since Friday.
Conservative MP Kevin Waugh tweeted that he and some of the party’s Saskatchewan caucus members wanted to show their appreciation for the truckers.
“It’s great to see Canadians championing freedom on Parliament Hill,” he tweeted Wednesday night, along with two photos. Sen. Denise Batters and former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer were among the visitors in one of the pictures.
The tweet was met with a chorus of criticism from local residents. Mayor Jim Watson called it a “disgrace.”
“This is an absolute disgrace that you would come out and praise this illegal action that has caused stress and hardship to residents who have been putting up with horns blasting throughout the night and residents harassed for wearing a mask & businesses forced to close.” Watson tweeted “Apologize.”
The protest began last Friday and is causing gridlock throughout downtown, with businesses forced to remain closed and residents dealing with noise and blocked streets.
Watson told CTV News he was "outraged" when he saw the photo Wednesday night.
"They understand what our city is going through; the chaos, the turmoil, the stress," he told CTV News at Noon. "To go out there and do selfies in front of the convoy, is salt in the wound."
Watson reserved particular criticism for Scheer.
"He's a former leader of the Conservative Party, he grew up in Ottawa. He knows that Ottawa is not just a government town. It’s a town made up of wonderful communities, and these communities are under siege.
"To have these members of Parliament and one senator come and mug for the cameras is absolutely disgraceful."
CTV News has reached out to the Conservative Party and the MPs’ individual offices for comment. The other MPs in the photo were Warren Steinley, Fraser Tolmie and Rosemarie Falk.
A spokesperson for Falk responded with a statement saying, in part: "I reject the assertion that I, as a Member of Parliament, should not take the time to meet and listen to Saskatchewanians who have come all this way to be heard. The Mayor of Ottawa should instead call on the Prime Minister to step up and help bring a resolve to the ongoing protests."
Waugh's office declined an interview request and did not provide a statement. Batters's office declined an interview request.
The main group behind the protests has scheduled a news conference for early Thursday afternoon.
- with files from Hannah Berge, CTV News Ottawa