Ottawa requests police reinforcements to deal with anti-vax protests

By Julio Cesar Rivas

Toronto, Canada, Feb 7 (EFE).- The city of Ottawa on Monday after declaring a state of emergency requested police reinforcements to deal with the protests by anti-vaxxers and other radical groups that 10 days ago used trucks to block off the area around the Canadian Parliament.

Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly acknowledged at a press conference his department’s inability to restore order in the capital city and issued a call for 1,800 additional police officers to be sent to help control the situation.

In that regard, he called for the help of other security forces, including the Mounted Police and the metropolitan police from other cities around the country.

In recent hours, the Ottawa police have arrested 20 people and issued about 500 fines for failing to comply with local regulations such as transporting fuel to keep the trucks operating or creating excessive noise due to the constant use, day and night, of the vehicles’ horns.

On Sunday, capital Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency, a move that will allow him to obtain equipment and other resources, including additional police, more quickly.

Watson said in a statement that the situation created by the protests was the “most serious” emergency Ottawa has experienced in its history.

The mayor on Monday sent letters to Trudeau, Canada’s minister of safety and other provincial officials, asking them to “help the City secure 1800 officers to quell the insurrection that the Ottawa Police Service is not able to contain,” adding that “People are living in fear and are terrified” and calling the truckers’ constant honking of their horns over the past nine days “tantamount to psychological warfare.”

The police chief said that things had come to this point because anti-vaxxers and others have been staging an “unprecedented” protest never seen before in Canada, and thus the security forces were not prepared to deal with it.

He noted that some protest organizers had initially planned for a demonstration lasting three days, but other groups have transformed the situation into an “occupation.”

Nevertheless, Sloly said that slowly the authorities are beginning to suppress the protest, in part thanks to the decision by the GoFundMe Web site not to distribute $10 million Canadian (about $7.89 million in US currency) in donations collected online by protest organizers.

Even so, on Monday it was learned that over the course of two days the anti-vax groups had collected $3.5 million via GiveSendGo, a Web portal that describes itself as a Christian donation site.

Meanwhile, the leader of the social-democratic New Democratic Party, lawmaker Jagmeet Singh, asked for the House of Commons on Monday evening to hold an emergency session to discuss the protests.

Singh said at a press conference that the actions of the anti-vaxxers and other radical groups have ceased being a protests and now constitute an attempt to topple the government using foreign financing, a reference to some of the donations that the demonstrators are receiving.

The politician said that this foreign interference is coming from the United States, given that a part of the funds collected via GoFundMe come from donors in Canada’s southern neighbor.

Both former US President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have publicly supported the protests.

A committee in the Canadian House of Commons has already launched an investigation into the GoFundMe donations and will request that top company officials testify on the matter in the coming days.

For now, the main victory against the protest has been achieved by Ottawa residents via a collective lawsuit filed against the protest organizers seeking millions of dollars in damages.

After filing that suit, a judge in the province of Ontario prohibited demonstrators from using their horns on the streets, one of the main things that capital residents say they are fed up with.

The protests began on Jan. 29 when the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” organized by truckers opposed to getting vaccinated against Covid-19, attracted more thatn 3,000 trucks to Ottawa and between 10,000 to 15,000 demonstrators, including members of organizations from the extreme right.

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