OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will neither meet with nor be intimidated by the convoy of Canadians he says spent the last few days harassing local businesses, waving Nazi flags and stealing food from the homeless.
Trudeau spoke to Canadians from isolation today after he tested positive for COVID-19.
But he says he only attends protests when he agrees with the cause, and not when demonstrators are expressing hateful rhetoric and engaging in violence.
Trudeau says every Canadian is sick of the pandemic but it will not end because protesters demand it, but by people getting vaccinated.
The Canada Unity group that is the main organizer of the convoy is demanding an end to all COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine mandates and public health orders, most of which are imposed by provincial governments.
Trudeau says politicians need to be careful about what they are supporting and says anyone in the crowd who is uncomfortable with the racist and hateful behaviour displayed by others needs to be courageous and call it out.
“I want to be very clear, we are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse small business workers and steal food from the homeless,” Trudeau said. “We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonour the memory of our veterans.”
Deirdre Freiheit, president of Shepherds of Good Hope, has said staff and volunteers at a soup kitchen fielded verbal abuse from protesters demanding meals over several hours.
Ottawa police have reached out to the shelter to investigate the incident. Police are also investigating the desecration of the National War Memorial and a statue of Terry Fox.
The crowds of thousands that turned downtown Ottawa into a gridlocked nightmare for locals over the weekend has dwindled, but most of the downtown core remains in a forced lockdown because of the convoy.
A few hundred people collected in front of Parliament Hill, and numerous commercial rigs still block most of Wellington Street in front of the Parliament Buildings.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2022.
Mia Rabson, Mike Blanchfield and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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