Counter-protesters gather in downtown Ottawa with message for freedom convoy: ‘go home please’

By CityNews Ottawa

A group of counter-protesters gathered outside city hall in Ottawa to voice their growing displeasure with the anti-vaccine mandate ‘freedom convoy’ protest that has entered its second week of traffic gridlocks and incessant honking in the nation’s capital.

Roughly 200 anti-convoy protesters – mainly Ottawa residents frustrated by the presence of the truckers in their city – gathered on Laurier Avenue on Saturday despite police and other groups asking people to stay away from the downtown core.

They held signs like “Go Home Please” and “Take Back Our City.” They also chanted “All these truckers gotta go!” and “Whose city? Our city!” at various points in the afternoon.

People told CityNews they came out because they were tired of all the noise.

“At the beginning I had some sympathy for what their cause was, getting rid of the mandates. I was OK with that. But it’s morphed into something different,” said one counter-protester.

Added another: “What concerns me more is that as a resident of the ByWard Market, I’m being told not to go out into my own neighbourhood.”

On the other side of the street were pro-convoy protesters with occasional shouts of “Freedom!” A line of about 30 police officers kept them separated.

At one point a small group of pro-convoy demonstrators wearing “Canada First” caps approached the counter-protesters.

Despite the brief confrontation, things remained peaceful.

Police in Ottawa were 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.

Thousands of people gathered near Parliament Hill, including two protesters on horseback that attracted much attention as the second week of protesting against vaccine mandates and the Justin Trudeau government got underway.

One of the protesters on horseback waved a Canadian flag. The other, who wore a cowboy hat, had a red “Trump 2024” flag in support of the former U.S. president.

Downtown Ottawa residents have endured a week of blaring truck horn and blocked streets. In some occasions, residents reported aggression and racial taunts by participants.

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

The battle to end the conflict with protesters opposed to vaccines and other restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 moved to the legal arena on Saturday.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ appeared before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to argue a class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of downtown Ottawa residents.


The lawsuit is seeking millions of dollars in damages and an injunction “prohibiting the continuation of the nuisance.”

Champ appeared in an online court hearing on behalf of the proposed members of the action – all people who reside in Ottawa from Bay Street to Elgin Street and Lisgar Street to Wellington Street.

The statement of claim says people have suffered injury and damages for emotional and mental distress, difficulty concentrating, interference with quiet enjoyment of home, headaches and difficulty sleeping.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly on Friday committed to “do better” and pledged a “surge” of 150 extra officers to patrol the demonstration.

But more residents voiced their frustration with police and the city again on Saturday, including city councillors.

Coun. Catherine McKenney of Somerset Ward wants the federal to take “operational control” of the Parliamentary precinct, which would then allow Ottawa police to focus their efforts on Ottawa’s neighbourhoods.

“This will allow Ottawa Police to focus on protecting our neighbourhoods, residents, and businesses from the violent and intimidating acts of harassment, destruction, and noise that we are currently experiencing, every day,” tweeted McKenney.

A number of rallies took place across Canada Saturday in solidarity with those who have been camped out in Ottawa.

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

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

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

In Toronto, police say they arrested a 22-year-old man for allegedly igniting a smoke bomb at the demonstration at Queen’s Park. The man faces one count each of assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance and public mischief.

In Alberta, protesters on horseback joined a truck blockade of a southern Alberta highway near the U.S. border crossing at Coutts.

—With files from The Canadian Press

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