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
NEW THIS MORNING
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
By now it's as predictable as the calls for thoughts and prayers: A mass shooting leaves many dead, and wild conspiracy theories and misinformation about the carnage soon follow. Within hours of Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, another rash began as internet users spread baseless claims about the man named as the gunman and his possible motives.
Families are sharing photos and stories of their loved ones, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday afternoon.
Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, and Pierre Poilievre squared off in the second official party debate on Wednesday night in Laval, Que.
Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol team.
Several parts of the country, including British Columbia and Canada's Maritime provinces, are likely to see wetter-than-normal conditions this summer, according to AccuWeather's annual summer forecast.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, adopted siblings Hannah Raleigh of Chicago and Limia Ravart of Montreal met in person for the first time after an ancestry test confirmed the two are in fact related.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled plans to appear in person at a Liberal fundraiser in British Columbia Tuesday after RCMP warned an aggressive protest outside the event could escalate if he arrived, said a source close to the decision. The source spoke to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
A jury in Portland has convicted a self-published romance novelist - who once wrote an essay titled 'How to Murder Your Husband' - of fatally shooting her husband four years ago.
As the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mass shooting moves its public proceedings to Truro, many of the family members affected by the tragedy and their lawyers are boycotting the proceedings over the next week.
Former Chief Anchor Steve Murphy offers a timely perspective on the Mass Casualty Commission and the difference 30 years after the Westray inquiry.
Speaking off-script at an event in Halifax Wednesday morning, Canada's Minister of Public Safety said he was gutted by the latest mass shooting south of the border - the 27th in a school this year alone.
Was your home damaged by the Ontario storm? Insurance companies say payouts could take weeks to process
The insurance industry says it could take up to six weeks to get an idea of how many hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs will be required from the weekend storm that brought death and destruction to Ontario and Quebec, but that early estimates are substantial.
Police have released new video of a recent incident in which a vehicle was caught doing doughnuts and speeding along the shoulder of busy Ontario roadways.
People all across Ontario are getting creative when it comes to netting a secondary income, otherwise known as a “side hustle,” and many are turning to secondhand economies thriving on online platforms.
Quebec politicians were not pleased with the federal Liberals' comments on Bill 96 and Bill 21, firing back with a slew of protests and even raising sovereignty as the solution.
Quebec's public health department is set to give its first press conference on the growing monkeypox outbreak as the province recorded its 16th confirmed case Wednesday.
Several of the six aspiring Conservative leaders expressed their opposition to Bill 96 during a French-language debate in Laval on Wednesday night, but others shied away from the opportunity to express their views on the issue.
Sault Ste. Marie city council is asking staff to prepare a report on group homes. This comes after Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian brought forward concerns this week about two such homes.
There are currently a dozen statues at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes property, and all are from the 1950s.
It’s a sign that summer is on the horizon. Farmers’ markets are opening in cities and towns across the north.
Two men and one woman are facing charges Wednesday after police say their vehicle struck a London police cruiser and then the suspects fled the scene on foot over the weekend.
OPP and Southwest Middlesex fire are on the scene of a fatal collision Wednesday afternoon involving a tanker truck and a passenger vehicle.
Jeff Ducharme was in his home office when a young man in a truck pulled up, ran up to the front of his home in Norwich, Ont. and stole his pride flag in broad daylight.
The Manitoba Government could turn to the military for help as it struggles with staffing shortages, overcrowding, and in some cases, temporary closures of emergency rooms.
The Manitoba government is hinting it may allow more alcohol sales through private channels to boost customer convenience.
Hundreds of residents in River Park South were left without power Wednesday evening after a pole was knocked down on St. Anne's Road.
New details are emerging about the tragic incident that killed 27-year-old Shelby Humble-Neale on Saturday.
Waterloo regional police say evidence of gunfire found in McLennan Park in Kitchener is connected to another shooting incident in the nearby area of Windflower Drive and Windflower Crescent.
Two 29-year-old men have been seriously injured following a collision in Baden, Ont., with one needing to be airlifted to a hospital outside the region.
The City of Calgary has recruited three people from the commercial real-estate sector in an effort to get a new event centre to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.
After a massacre at a Texas elementary school, some are looking into safety protections against gun violence in Calgary's school system while mental health experts are offering advice for difficult conversations about mass shootings.
Those who haven't received their bill by the first week of June are asked to contact 311.
The Prime Minister toured the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Saskatoon Police Service says that the use and presence of potent new synthetic opioids known as nitazenes are difficult to track and monitor.
A 48-year-old semi-truck driver was killed in in a rollover near Meadow Lake on Tuesday.
If you visit downtown Edmonton in the next 11 days, you might see some strange and unusual sights. Art installations and musical performances are popping up throughout the area as part of Downtown Spark.
Even though they cheer for opposite teams, a proposal by a Flames fan at Game 4 of the Battle of Alberta received a resounding "yes" from the Oilers-loving bride to be.
The body of a missing canoer has been located in northeast Alberta.
The decision to focus on urgent and emergency health care to avert long waits played a key role in B.C.’s current primary care crisis, and the costlier care is compounding the problem.
A social media video that captures the moment a man gets Tasered by a Vancouver police officer is prompting calls for more training for police going out mental health calls.
A judge has refused to grant a B.C. cannabis company an injunction against a man who used a list of email addresses the company accidentally sent to all shareholders against it.
'All it takes is one': Sask. RCMP partner with Washington police to publicize disappearance of Mekayla Bali
Saskatchewan RCMP and the Washington State Patrol announced a collaboration of efforts to locate Mekayla Bali, who was 16-years-old when she was last on April 12, 2016 in Yorkton.
A new art exhibit at the George Bothwell Library is hoping to examine and remove the feeling of shame associated with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
For those looking to hop the border into Manitoba for their camping seasons, it started off on the wrong foot for Duck Mountain Provincial Park.