TORONTO: When the nation gets ready to mark the 155th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Confederation, Parliament Hill in Ottawa will be off-limits as demonstrators associated with the Freedom Convoy start congregating there for the holiday weekend.
On July 1, Canada Day is honoured, and for the first time in two years, festivities are anticipated to draw large crowds. The previous two years were tarnished by limitations brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak.
But when several organisations poured into the city, including the original Freedom Convoy, the anti-mandate demonstrators that seized the capital for three weeks in February, Parliament Hill and downtown Ottawa became highly policed areas, and that presence will last until July 4.
Protesters have compiled a schedule of events, which includes a march to Parliament Hill on Friday. The interim police chief for the city of Ottawa, Steve Bell, said in a statement that was made public on Monday as it outlined preparations for preserving peace and order in Ottawa for the Canada Day holiday, “We expect there to be demonstrations. All Canadians have this right, and it will be upheld.
But he said, “We will not tolerate illegal behaviour, and we will not permit car-based protests in the motor vehicle control zone.”
The primary Canadian Heritage celebration activities have been relocated to LeBreton Flats, which is a bit further from Parliament Hill.
According to Amanda Haveman, a member of the organisation Freedom Central Canada, they want to demonstrate to Ottawa that they are “respectful Canadians,” adding that they want their “voices heard and we want Canada to go back to the way it was,” in a video message.
While the federal government removed a number of Covid-19 vaccination-related regulations in June, including the requirement that employers accept back unvaccinated workers, one restriction on cross-border trucking with the United States remained in place. This restriction was the impetus for the Freedom Convoy movement in February. That demonstration came to a stop after Trudeau declared an emergency, which was lifted on February 23 after nine days. Hearings at House of Commons committees are presently taking place to evaluate the justification for such drastic action.