Ottawa mayor on planned motorcycle protest: 'Why waste all that money on gas?'
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the city and police are preparing for the arrival of the "Rolling Thunder Ottawa" demonstration set to roll into the capital next weekend.
And while few details are known about the planned demonstration by an estimated 500 to 1,000 people, Watson has a message for anyone planning to take part in the demonstration so soon after the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration.
"If people want to come and they want to lay a wreath at the war monument, that's fine," Watson told Newstalk 580 CFRA's The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll Friday morning.
"They're not going to be able to break the law like they did in the past, and they're not going to have any access, obviously, for their motorcycles to Wellington Street. That's blocked off and will continue to be blocked off.”
The protest is planning for rallies on Parliament Hill, slow rolling around downtown and a stop at the National War Memorial to lay a wreath.
"The bikes are coming 29th and 30th of April," said a post on TikTok promoting the "Rolling Thunder Ottawa" event.
Watson is questioning the reasoning for the demonstrations.
"Why waste all that money on gas, which is really expensive, to come here to drive around a couple of streets yelling 'Freedom?’" Watson said.
"Send the money to the Red Cross to help the real freedom fights in Ukraine that are seeing their loved ones tortured and brutally killed. That, to my way of thinking, is a better way for these people to come and celebrate freedom, help the people of Ukraine when they need their freedom back."
Ottawa police told CTV News Ottawa on Thursday that the service is preparing for the planned demonstration, but provided no other details. Interim Chief Steve Bell will provide an update to the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday.
The "Rolling Thunder Ottawa" protest will arrive in Ottawa just over two months after police moved in to end the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration that occupied Wellington Street and other streets in the downtown core. Since then, Wellington Street has remained closed to vehicle traffic between Elgin Street and Bank Street while a full review is conducted.
NO MORE MR. NICE GUY, WATSON SAYS
Watson says the city of Ottawa cannot limit people from coming into the city of Ottawa to protest, but it can take steps to ensure vehicles don't overstay their welcome.
"What we can do is put in restrictions so that you're not going to be able to go and park illegally and block up every street in the downtown core, you're going to be ticketed," Watson said.
The mayor says the days of being "Mr. Nice Guy, welcoming people" for protests in Ottawa has to end.
"I think those truckers back a couple of months ago really ruined it for everyone else," Watson said.
"We are not going to have Wellington Street the same as it's been for the last 100 years. I think we're going to have to put in some kind of control so that something like this caravan is not going to be disruptive to the people who live in the neighbourhood and who work in the neighbourhood and who come legitimately as tourists."
CTV News Ottawa reached out to the organizers of the "Rolling Thunder Ottawa" demonstration on Thursday, but have not heard back.
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jeremie Charron