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The latest on protests against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa and beyond

The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, both in Ottawa and various cities across Canada. All times Eastern: 10:15 p.m.

The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, both in Ottawa and various cities across Canada. All times Eastern:

10:15 p.m.

RCMP in southern Alberta say there were numerous injuries from a collision involving a farm tractor in a convoy on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Police say the tractor was moving slowly in a small convoy with at least one other pickup truck on Saturday afternoon west of Brooks, Alta., when a second truck struck the rear bumper of the first truck, pushing it off the road.

The second truck continued forward and struck the rear left tire of the farm tractor, shearing it completely off.

The 45-year-old driver of the second truck had to be extracted from the vehicle, and police say he was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A 27-year-old woman who was in the first truck also suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to hospital, while the 38-year-old man who was driving the tractor sustained minor injuries.

Police say the crash shows how large, slow moving convoys can greatly reduce highway safety, and they ask that "everyone be lawful, respectful and patient when encountering slow-moving traffic."


6:30 p.m.

An Ottawa city councillor says Justin Trudeau has to make a statement about the convoys, saying protesters in the city aren’t going away until they hear from the prime minister.

Carol Anne Meehan says Trudeau can’t ignore the demonstration any longer, noting that it is happening in his front yard.

She says the federal and provincial governments also have resources and legal levers to help end what Meehan and others called an insurrection in the national capital.

Meehan made the comments during a two-hour-long meeting of Ottawa's police services board all about the convoy that has encamped downtown and overwhelmed the resources of local police.

Board members were looking at Criminal Code and provincial regulations that could force the hand of upper levels of government to become more involved in bringing the situation under control.

Board chair Diane Deans says she isn't going to tell the prime minister how to do his job, though questions whether he would meet with convoy organizers.

Speaking earlier to the Ontario wing of the federal Liberal party, Trudeau said those in Ottawa have been through a lot over the last week and that the government would be there to help.

Trudeau has been in isolation in the National Capital Region after testing positive last week for COVID-19, though he says he didn’t have any symptoms.


6 p.m.

Horns are blaring this afternoon in downtown Vancouver as vehicles adorned with Canada flags clogged streets for several blocks extending into the downtown core.

Protesters littered the sidewalks holding signs in support of the convoy.

Police were stationed along Burrard Street trying to maintain order as ambulances fought the crowd.

Tempers raged as counter-protesters held up signs in support of vaccines and called for silence outside St. Paul's hospital.


5:45 p.m.

Chaos reigned in downtown Ottawa just south of Parliament Hill as darkness fell on the nation’s capital.

Northbound streets towards the Hill were clogged with vehicles including many big rigs as far as the eye could see.

Few if any police were visible except for the few blocks immediately south of Parliament Hill.

An open fire burned in one intersection fueled by wood.

A fast food sandwich restaurant was jammed full of maskless patrons.

Meanwhile, protesting truckers doled out hot food at a pop-up table in the middle of another intersection.


5:30 p.m.

An Ottawa lawyer who filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against noisy protesters in the downtown core says his client has agreed to settle her suit if the demonstrators leave by Monday.

Paul Champ says the plaintiff listed on the suit has offered to refrain from pursuing financial damages if demonstrators leave the city by 10 a.m. that day.

He says protesters would have to sign a release and provide their vehicles' licence plates.


5 p.m.

Pickups, big rigs and a large crowd of demonstrators opposed to pandemic restrictions are on the streets near the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton for a second straight Saturday.

Many of the people carried signs lampooning critics -- such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- who've said the demonstrators are a small fringe minority.

There was at least one flag that supported former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Honking horns could be heard throughout the city's downtown, but one apartment window displayed a sign that appeared to challenge the demonstrators, saying "Honk if you love science."

Corbett Fertig, a demonstrator who said he's not against vaccines or masks, just mandates, said, "Sometimes freedom has to be a little noisy."


4:45 p.m.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly says all of his officers are on duty today to manage the protest against COVID-19 restrictions.

He says there are roughly 1,000 vehicles in the core of the city, and about 5,000 protesters.

Sloly says there are also 300 or so counter-demonstrators.

He characterizes the situation as "a city under siege" -- something he says the police force was never designed to deal with.

His comments came at a special meeting of the city's Police Services Board, which was called earlier in the day.


3:50 p.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says protesters who have encamped in downtown Ottawa and elsewhere are symbols of deep anger simmering through the country.

He calls the trucker convoys “completely misdirected” in their actions, but notes that many people nationwide are feeling angry, worried and unsure of how the country will get out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What the NDP leader says is needed is a clear plan from governments about what it will take for Canadians to get to a point where they can get back their normal lives.

He says that will help people looking at the convoys and using them as an outlet for their anger, even if they don’t agree with organizers.

Singh is also taking aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, arguing that each is trying to score political points off the protesters.

Their actions can only inflame tensions at a time that Singh says measures are needed to bring down the temperature.

Singh was speaking during a virtual press conference after addressing the Ontario NDP convention.


2:50 p.m.

Toronto police say they’ve arrested a 22-year-old man for allegedly igniting a smoke bomb.

They say they arrested the man around 2 p.m. at the ongoing demonstration at Queen’s Park.

The man faces one count each of assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance and public mischief.


2:45 p.m.

An Ontario Superior Court judge is holding off on ruling on a request to order truckers in Ottawa’s downtown to stop blowing their horns.

Justice Hugh McLean says he wants to give all sides in the lawsuit time to submit all documents to him, adding that he plans to make a decision on the horns on Monday afternoon.

On Friday, Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ filed a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of residents seeking millions of dollars in damages and an injunction "prohibiting the continuation of the nuisance."

During a hearing today, McLean noted the difficulty in enforcing such an injunction if the wording wasn’t just right.

Lawyer Keith Wilson says only one of the three people named in the proposed class-action who he represents actually has a truck, which he says has never had the horn sounded.

He also says the truckers in downtown Ottawa have an accord among themselves that the horns won’t sound overnight between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Champ notes that still means the horns will ring 12 hours a day at levels that are causing harm to downtown residents.

McLean suggests the truckers limit the use of air horns to short periods of time, perhaps around noon, but not for the full 12 hours.

He adds that Wilson and Champ might be able to sort out the situation before McLean makes his final ruling.


2:30 p.m.

Protesters on horseback have joined a truck blockade of a southern Alberta highway near the U.S. border crossing at Coutts.

RCMP Cpl. Gina Slaney says more than 100 horses appear to be at the protest against COVID-19 restrictions that began on Highway 4 last weekend.

Slaney says the horses were brought to the scene in trailers, and that food trucks also arrived today.

She says traffic is still moving in both directions across the Canada-U.S. border.

The protesters agreed earlier in the week to open some lanes for traffic so truckers could haul cargo across the border.


2:10 p.m.

Trucks have blocked an intersection in downtown Toronto as the main protest against public-health measures moved north of the Ontario legislative building.

Hundreds gathered there as the semi trucks blared their horns and protesters cheered.

About two dozen riot squad officers stood a block south.


1:55 p.m.

Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe says it's changed its plans for the millions of dollars raised in support of protesters who have been encamped in downtown Ottawa for more than a week.

The company pulled the fundraiser from its site on Friday evening, saying police evidence suggested it had devolved into an "occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity," and pledging to either refund the money raised or redistribute it to charities chosen by the protest organizers.

But GoFundMe has since published a blog post stating it's changed its mind in response to "donor feedback" and will now only be issuing refunds.

GoFundMe says those who donated to the Freedom Convoy campaign will not need to submit refund requests and can expect to see their money returned within seven to 10 business days.

GoFundMe previously said it removed the fundraiser because it violated the site's terms of service, which prohibit the promotion of violence and harassment.

An initial $1 million of the more than $10 million raised was released to organizers earlier this week.


1:35 p.m.

A Manitoba man is in custody after Winnipeg Police allege he drove his vehicle into a group of protesters who are part of the Freedom Convoy movement taking place outside the Legislative building this weekend.

Police say the incident took place just before 10 p.m. Friday evening.

Cst. Rob Carver spoke at a news conference today where he alleged the 42-year-old man from Headingly, Man., was driving his Jeep westbound when he hit four men and fled toward the west end of the city.

Police say officers were able to stop the vehicle approximately a half hour later and the driver was arrested after a "brief struggle."

Police say three of the injured men were treated at the scene, while a fourth was treated in hospital and released.

The accused is facing multiple charges including assault with a weapon and dangerous operation of a conveyance.

Carver says police believe the accused was not participating in the protest and it does not appear the underlying causes of the demonstration motivated his actions.

Protesters have been parked in front of the Legislative building since Friday morning as a sign of solidarity for similar movements across the country.


1:30 p.m.

Several thousand demonstrators are gathering near the legislature in Quebec City to protest against public-health measures.

Dozens of trucks are parked on René-Lévesque Boulevard near the National Assembly, with some participants touting signs depicting Premier François Legault as former North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and others offering “free hugs” from locals who say they are unvaccinated.

The area surrounding the legislative buildings saw a heavy police presence deployed at about noon, with provincial police stating on Twitter that protestors must not block roads.


1:15 p.m.

A couple hundred health-care workers and their supporters marched from the University of Toronto to hospital row just south of the Ontario legislature this afternoon.

They held signs saying “free-dumb” and “N95 masks for all.”

Police have closed off the roads near the hospitals to traffic.

The rally took place as hundreds of protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions gathered at the legislature in support of demonstrations in Ottawa that have stretched on for more than a week.


1 p.m.

A group of Indigenous senators say they are "extremely disturbed" by the events in Ottawa over the past week.

Nine members of the upper chamber say the "display of racist and hateful symbols" has sparked "profound shock and outrage" across the country and hurt Indigenous communities.

The senators, who come from a range of political backgrounds, say they were also troubled by the desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument.

They are noting their concern for the downtown businesses affected by the ongoing protest as well as marginalized and vulnerable individuals whose access to critical services has been interrupted.


12:35 p.m.

About three dozen people gathered in front of the New Brunswick legislature today.

Supporters driving by honked horns as the people waved signs that read "Mandate Freedom" and "True North Strong and Free."

A notice on social media said the group would later travel to Quispamsis and protest outside the home of Premier Blaine Higgs, but none of the people gathered said they would make that trip.


12:30 p.m.

Ottawa police say more than 20 highway ramps and roads will be shut down sporadically today amid protests in the capital.

The majority of the shutdowns affect ramps and exits on Highway 417, the spine of the city's road network.

The Ottawa police announcement, which was shared via Twitter, came as horns blared along streets clogged with banner-flying trucks and flag-festooned cars below Parliament Hill.

Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney says residents of the Centretown neighbourhood were promised extra officers yesterday, but the force's promised surge has amounted to only about two-dozen officers across the area so far.


12:15 p.m.

Several hundred protesters have gathered on the south side of the Ontario legislature.

The demonstrators tout signs that read “Freedom = no mandates” and “let love guide you, not fear."

Tim Hortons coffee is being served while reggae blares from loudspeakers amid chants of "freedom and "liberté."


12 p.m.

The head of the Ontario Trucking Association says the vast majority of demonstrators at the provincial legislature today appear to have no connection to the industry and harbour grievances that go “beyond the cross-border vaccine requirements.”

Association President Stephen Laskowski issued a statement today saying the trade organization “strongly disapproves” of any protests on roads, highways and hospitals.

He notes that the vast majority of Canada’s 300,000 truck drivers are vaccinated and reminds any big-riggers who participate in rallies across the country today that their behaviour reflects on them and their colleagues in the sector.

Laskowski is calling on demonstrators to protest peacefully and then return to their homes.


11:45 a.m.

Several dozen protesters have gathered at the Ontario legislature in downtown Toronto this morning.

Many are waving Canada flags and some are holding signs that say vaccine mandates should be ended.

Police have closed off roads near the legislature where several hospitals are located.


11:20 a.m.

Police in Ottawa have said they are expecting as many as 400 more trucks and up to 2,000 people on foot to arrive this weekend to join the protest that has been rebranded by critics, including a lot of frustrated downtown residents, as an occupation.

Downtown Ottawa residents have endured a week of blaring truck horns, blocked streets and racial taunts from aggressive participants.

Many city-dwellers have expressed frustration with the fact that little has changed days into the protest.

A counter-protest is set to take place in the national capital this afternoon, and organizer Mackenzie Demers says he hopes the event will be safe.

But he says the protesters' presence poses underlying danger for visible minorities and members of the LGTBQ community.

A number of rallies are set to take place in cities across Canada today in solidarity with those who have been camped out in Ottawa.

Demonstrations are scheduled in cities including Toronto, Quebec City, Fredericton, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, among others.


11 a.m.

The battle to end the week-long conflict with protesters opposed to vaccines and other restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 is moving to the legal arena today.

An Ottawa lawyer is to appear before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to argue a class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of downtown Ottawa residents seeking millions of dollars in damages and an injunction "prohibiting the continuation of the nuisance."

The statement of claim names protest organizers Tamara Lich, Patrick King, Chris Barber and others as defendants but has not been proven in court.

Lawyer Paul Champ will appear in court this afternoon.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misspelled the surname of protester Corbett Fertig.