Ottawa braces for Canada Day protest by ‘Freedom Convoy’ supporters | Canada

Downtown Ottawa residents are preparing for a Canada Day like no other after protesters from the “Freedom Convoy” vowed to return to Parliament Hill on July 1 and have a presence through the rest of the summer.

Every Canada Day, people gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to watch musical performances and fireworks celebrating the anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This year, it will likely be difficult for police to distinguish between revelers and convoy members – which is what protesters are banking on.

In late January, groups opposed to vaccination and mask mandates drove semis and other large vehicles into core downtown Ottawa and set up camp. The ensuing three-week occupation of the capital was a traumatic experience for many locals, who faced harassment, incessant noise and other unwelcome encounters, said Ariel Troster, a city council candidate in Ottawa’s Somerset Borough.

“Many people have been evicted from their homes, many have been harassed, there have been at least two instances of people defecating on their doorstep. There have been reports of apartment buildings where convoy people took over the laundry room and never left,” Troster said. “Not to mention the symbols of hate that were clearly visible not only on the hill but also in the neighborhood.”

Group messages on Telegram, YouTube videos and other channels show convoy sympathizers believe in the white replacement theory and other conspiracies. QAnon activists and propaganda were often spotted with the winter cast.

It ultimately cost the city $36 million in police costs and led to a planned class action lawsuit against protest organizers.

With Canada dropping most of its mandates, the convoys appear to be calling for Justin Trudeau’s resignation as prime minister. They have gained a foothold with conservative politicians after recently holding a meeting with their “allies” in Parliament.

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has pledged to thwart any new attempt to occupy the city. The force is under immense pressure to get Canada Day right after their many failures to oversee the previous cast.

At a police services board meeting on Monday, interim OPS chief Steve Bell said an increased police presence and street barricades limiting the number of vehicles allowed downtown may not be able to keep out convoys arriving on foot, but it will prevent people from setting up camps.

“Canada Day is a very important day for Canadians. It’s a day to celebrate our country and all the good things in it. But folks, if they come, they have to be legitimate. And they have to respect our community,” Bell said.