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'Freedom Convoy' returns to Parliament Hill to mark 2nd anniversary

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Hundreds of protestors gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday, to mark two years since police moved in to end the "Freedom Convoy" on Feb. 18, 2022.

"What I’ve seen in the last two years is disgraceful and our government and Trudeau should be ashamed," said one protestor, who did not want to give his name.

Many on the Hill are protesting what they describe as government overreach and are calling for a change in leadership.

But unlike the honking and gridlock of the past, it’s a different atmosphere this year as many say there’s a reason for optimism.

"It’s quite rewarding to be here actually, we are recognized now that we weren’t as wrong as everyone thought we were. I’m not saying everything played out as we thought, but things are changing quite rapidly," said Jack Lapierre, a retired firefighter from Petawawa.

Thousands of people took over streets around Parliament Hill in late January 2022, blocking roads with big-rig trucks and other vehicles and refusing to move.

The protesters were loosely organized, with many gathering to oppose COVID-19 pandemic restrictions -- which had mostly ended by that time -- and others hoping to bring down the Trudeau government.

A protester records a police line with their phone as police move in to clear downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill of protesters after weeks of demonstrations on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin TangA recent Federal Court decision found the use of the Emergencies Act to clear protestors was unreasonable and infringed on their Charter rights, despite a public inquiry arriving at a different conclusion.

"To be here and to be remembering, but also celebrating and moving forward with hopefully some accountability coming would be really good," said organizer Chris Dacey.

There was a noticeable police presence with minor road closures as protestors marched through downtown and bylaw officers were on hand issuing tickets at their discretion.

"Two years ago, we almost got arrested and now we’re back because they can’t stop us now," said Daphne Lecumpte.

Armed with a long list of grievances, protestors are demanding change and accountability.

"I can’t afford a home in this country, I make minimum wage, I’ve worked in retail for several years and I have a hard time even moving out of my parent’s house," said Lecumpte.

But not everyone was happy to welcome the "Freedom" movement back.

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, but give me a break, there are a lot more serious issues in this country than what they prescribe," said Grant Kippen, who lives in downtown Ottawa.

In a press conference Friday, organizers called for an apology from the Prime Minister and other government officials in light of the recent Federal Court decision regarding the Emergencies Act.

Two of the main organizers of the "Freedom Convoy," Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, are on trial for mischief and other charges in a case that has dragged on for months in an Ottawa court.

A proposed $290-million class-action lawsuit against convoy organizers on behalf of Ottawa residents, workers and business owners is still working its way through court. 

With files from The Canadian Press and CTVNews.ca

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