Heavy police presence as truckers arrive in downtown Ottawa
Ottawa's police chief is urging people to avoid downtown Ottawa this weekend, as a large convoy of truckers and supporters fill streets around Parliament Hill to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the first of several convoys parked outside of Parliament Hill Friday afternoon, Chief Peter Sloly issued a stark warning to any protesters who break the law: they will be prosecuted.
“Let me be very clear: we are prepared to investigate, arrest if necessary, charge and prosecute anyone who acts violently or breaks the law in the demonstrations, or in association with the demonstrations," Sloly said.
"We have the capability and commitment to pursue investigations and prosecutions well after the demonstrations have ended.”
Hundreds of participants in the freedom convoy gathered on Wellington Street and on Parliament Hill Friday afternoon, as dozens of trucks parked in front of the hill.
Many more trucks were seen driving through the downtown area, honking horns and waving signs calling for an end to the COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
Big rigs were lined up on Wellington Street west of Metcalfe, while others farther east were being diverted down Elgin Street. The Queen Elizabeth Driveway was jammed full of trucks for several hours.
Sloly said the convoy's organizers have assured police the demonstration will be peaceful, and the planned events will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
However, Sloly said he anticipates other "lone wolf" protesters not directly affiliated with the main group. He also warned of "social media actors who may or may not actually come to the city ... but who are nonetheless inciting hate, violence and in some cases criminality to take place in our city."
Sloly said police still don't have a confirmed number of demonstrators and don't know how long they will stay, but anticipate "major traffic safety issues" over the weekend.
Kingston police said the departing group included 17 full tractor-trailers, 104 tractors without trailers, 424 passenger vehicles and six RVs. More truckers are expected from other parts of the country.
Police have been managing small protests from people who have already arrived in the past 24 hours, which Sloly said have been "peaceful and uneventful."
He warned the weekend's events will be "unique, fluid, risky and significant."
"These demonstrations are national in scope, they are massive in scale, unfortunately they are polarizing in nature." Ottawa residents can expect a ramped-up police, national security and other emergency services presence Friday and into the weekend.
They will also be out in force on major highways and roads in and around the city.
Convoys from western Canada arrived in Arnprior, Ont. late Friday evening. CTV News reporter Mackenzie Gray estimated 250 to 300 vehicles arrived just before 10 p.m., with the main group expected to turn off the highway into a truck stop just before midnight.
Convoys from eastern Canada rolled into Vankleek Hill Friday evening, before completing the journey to Ottawa on Saturday morning.
Police urge drivers to avoid Ottawa highways, downtown
Ontario Provincial Police are urging motorists to avoid Hwy. 416 and 417 this weekend. In a message on Twitter Thursday, the OPP said, "OPP advises motorists to avoid travel on Hwy 417 and Hwy 416 in the Ottawa area, beginning Friday afternoon and on Saturday."
The Ottawa Police Service is asking people not to travel in Ottawa this weekend, and if you do travel to expect delays. People should do their shopping on Friday if possible.
"Expect major disruptions to traffic throughout Ottawa and especially in the downtown core. If you have appointments, children in activities, are expecting food deliveries, please be prepared to adjust your plans," said Ottawa police.
Sloly warned of "significant impacts" for people who live and work downtown, and said there may be limited mobility in the core for drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians depending on where demonstrators are.
He stopped short of advising local businesses should close, saying "it's irresponsible and quite frankly impossible for us to dictate which of those services can and should operate."
However, he said if the situation changes or authorities learn of direct threats to any parts of the city, police would make more direct recommendations.
Ottawa police say they are planning to route trucks down certain highway exits, including the Pinecrest and Kent street off-ramps for those coming in from the west.
Ottawa police are working with the RCMP, OPP, the Parliamentary Protective Service and other local police forces.
Ottawa Public Health has closed two vaccination clinics in the Glebe and Lowertown in anticipation of traffic disruptions this weekend. The Ottawa Public Library has also closed two branches due to expected road closures. The NCC is closing the Queen Elizabeth Driveway from Laurier Avenue to the Pretoria Bridge. From the bridge to Fifth Avenue, it will be open for active users only.
The city is also warning that OC Transpo and Para Transpo service could be delayed .
Stay up to date on the latest transit information by visiting octranspo.com.
Police prepared to investigate
Sloly said Friday that the right to demonstrate is at the heart of Canadians' democratic freedoms, but that comes with responsibilities and limitations.
He said Friday police are prepared to arrest anyone who is engaging in more serious behaviours such as damaging property. And he also warned that those not present who are inciting such behaviours online could also face punishment.
"It is irresponsible to inflame this already volatile situation, and in some cases it may be illegal to express hate or incite criminality and violence in association to the demonstrations,” he said.
“We have seen in other jurisdictions where such inflammatory behaviors have led to people getting injured, killed, and/or incarcerated. We are doing everything we can toensure that does not happen here.”
What is the Freedom Convoy?
The freedom convoy is calling for the end of vaccine mandates in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"On January 15th, a small team of Alberta truckers, their family members and friends, came to the decision that the Government of Canada has crossed a line with implementing Covid-19 vaccine passports and vaccine mandates," said a statement Wednesday on the Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page.
"As of today, we now have the support of millions of Canadians from across the country."
The list of demands includes the federal and provincial governments terminating the vaccine passports and all other "obligatory vaccine contact tracing programs", and terminate COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The protest was initially sparked by outrage over a vaccine mandate imposed this month on cross-border truckers, but has since garnered support from anti-vaccine mandate group.
Canadian Trucking Alliance
The Canadian Trucking Alliance has made it clear it does not support "any protests on public roadways, highways and bridges."
In a statement last weekend, the association noted the vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated.
"The Government of Canada and the United States have now made being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border. This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate," said CTA president Stephen Laskowski.
Mayor: 'Please come peacefully'
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson reiterated his message to the truckers Friday morning, asking people to come peacefully and respectfully.
"We're asking the protesters, please come peacefully," he said. "Protest is part of our democratic rights, but make sure that you follow our rules and regulations when you get here. You're coming into another community's neighbourhood and it's important to respect that."
Watson asked the demonstators to leave lanes available for emergency vehicles and wear masks when entering local businesses.
"Don't harass someone, a 17-year-old employee making minimum wage, because you won't wear a mask. Be sensible and be kind to one another.
"This is going to be a stressful time for the next two days, at least."
Ottawa Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Saddle Lake Cree Nation in eastern Alberta is 'actively researching and investigating' the deaths of at least 200 residential school children who never came home, as remains are being found in unmarked grave sites.
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have arrived in St. John's, N.L., to begin a three-day Canadian tour that includes stops in Ottawa and the Northwest Territories.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is urging the U.S. government to convince Michigan to abandon its legal campaign against the Line 5 pipeline.
Former Pentagon officials have briefed at least three Canadian members of Parliament about unidentified flying objects, according to a Manitoba MP and a Texas-based researcher.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre has a personal financial interest in cryptocurrencies that he has promoted during his campaign as a hedge against inflation.
The Green Party of Canada is calling on the federal government to develop a targeted anti-transgender hate strategy, citing a 'rising tide of hate' both in Canada and abroad. Amita Kuttner, who is Canada's first transgender federal party leader, made the call during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday.
Canada's transport minister is dismissing claims that the federal government asked airlines to reduce their schedules and cancel flights to ease recent travel delays.
International arrivals at Canadian airports are so backed up, people are being kept on planes for over an hour after they land because there isn't physically enough space to hold the lineups of travellers, says the Canadian Airports Council.
A day after Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner was robbed of his Range Rover at gunpoint outside an Etobicoke movie theatre, Toronto police said they have already seen more carjackings so far this year than they did in all of 2021.
The police officer who fatally shot a 26-year-old Indigenous woman during a wellness check in Edmundston, N.B., two years ago says he doesn't know why things escalated so quickly.
When a man disguised as a Mountie started killing people in northern Nova Scotia two years ago, there was considerable confusion over who was in charge of the RCMP operation, newly released documents show.
A woman who was stabbed overnight in the Halifax area has died from her injuries.
Political analysts call Doug Ford's approach the “front-runner” strategy and say it started long before the writ was drawn.
An Ontario man who has nearly 1 million-kilometres on his car is sharing his secret of how he did it.
Montreal public health officials are considering whether to bring back a special hotline for families with sick children to get them speedy appointments with a doctor. Hospitals are seeing an increase in visits to pediatric emergency rooms.
Peppered with questions on Bill 96, Legault said there's been "disinformation" spreading, in his opinion -- and that on one important question, health care, many critics of the bill are wrong. In fact, the bill is confusing on that point and the details still haven't been fully explained.
Montreal drivers have a lot of words to describe the city's roads in summer, when the orange pylons pop up: an obstacle course, a maze, a mess. The city's auditor general agrees and offers analysis of why in a new report.
There have been more than 107 fatalities on Ontario Provincial Police patrolled roads so far this year.
B'Nai Brith Canada presented North Bay Mayor Al McDonald with a certificate of merit Tuesday morning, honouring him for standing up to racism.
As the provincial election nears, Sault Ste. Marie incumbent Ross Romano is squaring off again against Michelle McCleave-Kennedy, who gave him a tough fight in 2018.
A police investigation has been sparked after a north London, Ont. playground was vandalized with hate symbols.
The London Fire Department responded to a fast-moving blaze early Tuesday evening in the area of Dundas Street and Lyle Street, resulting in an estimated $50,000 worth of damages.
One person is in custody for allegedly breaking and entering after a Sarnia business owner saw they were being robbed in real-time thanks to a video surveillance system.
Federal regulators are demanding answers and solutions from the bell MTS after several Manitobans have spoken out about their landline phone service which they call unacceptable.
Two Winnipeg men are facing firearm-related charges after Winnipeg police officers seized 19 guns from a home in the city’s Southwood neighbourhood.
A Manitoba mother says the use of cannabis oil has had a profound impact on the health of her child.
The search continued Tuesday for a man police say may have information about the death of an 8-year-old boy in Cambridge. Neighbours also shared their concerns about the police response.
Provincial police have launched an investigation after human remains were found in the water in Dunnville, just northwest of Port Maitland.
A contentious topic is back under review in Cambridge. City council is hearing from a number of delegates sharing their thoughts about a paintball company's land and whether it should be re-zoned.
Alberta schools boards can choose to pilot three more subjects in the new K-6 draft curriculum this fall, which is drawing criticism from some parents and student advocates.
The last time the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers faced each other in the playoffs was way back in 1991.
The ballots are in and tension is building within the United Conservative Party ahead of Wednesday's revelation of the result of Jason Kenney's leadership review.
Former Epic Alliance employee says firm 'pushed' for higher appraisals of homes it sold to investors
A former employee of Epic Alliance says the firm sometimes "pushed" for higher appraisals on homes sold to landlords and would rent to tenants who would "destroy" properties
With the University of Saskatchewan research team monitoring the city's wastewater for signs of COVID-19 noting an 85 per cent drop in its latest update, experts in the city say the trend is cause for cautious optimism.
Saskatoon Police Service officers are not permitted to wear Thin Blue Line patches, according to a report to the Board of Police Commissioners.
A hunter's wife has testified she texted her husband not to drink and drive or get in a fight the night he and his uncle were shot to death on a rural Alberta road.
The soaring cost of gas is hitting charities in Metro Vancouver hard and organizations are worried they will soon have to make tough decisions and cuts to services if they don’t get some relief.
Nearly three weeks after Moderna became the first pharmaceutical company to apply for Health Canada approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for young children, the regulatory agency is tight-lipped about progress.
Volunteers with the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society are reeling after thieves broke into a military museum and stole irreplaceable items donated by war veterans and their families.
Some food vendors at Mosaic Stadium are pausing preparations for the preseason as the CFL strike has potential to postpone the first exhibition game of the year.
The Williston Basin Petroleum Conference has returned to Regina after three years away due to the pandemic.
Saskatchewan motorists will be feeling the pain at the pumps as they hit the highway this long weekend, with it costing over $100 to fill the tank on many vehicles.