The Slatest

Ottawa Mayor Warns City Is “Losing This Battle” Against Vaccine Mandate Protests

A protester of the vaccine mandates introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks down Metcalfe Street draped in a Canadian flag on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.
A protester of the vaccine mandates introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks down Metcalfe Street draped in a Canadian flag on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Protesters that have taken over much of the Canadian capital’s downtown are disrupting daily life in Ottawa and authorities are making renewed efforts to stop anyone from attempting to provide support to the demonstrators. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said protesters far outnumber police and authorities are “losing this battle” against the demonstrators that have camped out in Canada’s capital for 10 days. “The situation at this point is completely out of control because the individuals with the protest are calling the shots,” Watson said on a local radio station. “They have far more people than we have police officers.” Police are now boosting efforts to try to cut off any lifelines to the protests, warning that anyone taking “material aid,” such as fuel, to the protesters could be arrested.

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The “Freedom Convoy” began as a way to protest rules that required truckers that cross into the United States to be fully vaccinated. But the protests have grown into a movement that is against all public health measures designed to try to stem the spread of COVID-19. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities and towns across the country to express their support for the demonstrations taking place in Ottawa.

Protesters reached Ottawa last weekend and they said they’re going to stay there until their demands are met. The situation has reached a breaking point and Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said the city needed “an additional surge of resources” to respond to the protests. “This is a siege,” Sloly said. “It is something that is different in our democracy than I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Sloly has faced criticism for what many have described as a soft hand on protesters. “The demonstrators … remain highly organized, well-funded, extremely committed to resisting all attempts to end the demonstrations safely,” Sloly told reporters Friday. “This remains, as it was from the beginning, an increasingly volatile and increasingly dangerous demonstration.”

Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with 81 percent of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while 43 percent have received a booster shot.

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