Ottawa Police Chief: City Is Under 'Siege'

Mayor declares a state of emergency
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2022 12:24 AM CST
Official: Ottawa Protests Part of 'Nationwide Insurrection'
Protesters walk around trucks parked in the downtown area in protest of COVID-19 restrictions, in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022.   (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

As protests spread across Canada, a state of emergency has been declared in Ottawa, where they started. The police chief in the capital city described it as being under "siege" Saturday, and by Sunday, the mayor had declared it "the most serious emergency our city has ever faced" and was calling for outside help. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far ruled out calling in the military, the New York Times reports. "We do not have sufficient resources to adequately and effectively address this situation" as well as everyday police matters, Ottawa's police chief said Saturday. Businesses have been forced to close amid the protests, monuments have been desecrated, and a city councilor says hundreds of people have told her they're getting yelled at, harassed, or followed when they leave their house to run errands.

The chair of Ottawa's police services board says what's happening there is part of a "nationwide insurrection," and some are seeing parallels to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Ottawa's police chief says "a significant element from the United States" is helping with funding and organization of the protests; former President Trump himself is among those praising the truckers who started it all. While the "Freedom Convoy" of truckers that descended on Ottawa is protesting the country's COVID-19 requirements, including a vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the border from the US, the protests happening in Toronto, Quebec City, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, and elsewhere encompass issues from COVID measures to unhappiness with Trudeau's leadership to the balance between free speech and police maintaining order.

But Trudeau has said relatively little on the matter, Politico reports, and he continues to insist a "fringe minority" is to blame; he has said nothing at all on the issue since Thursday, even while releasing statements on other matters. He continues to isolate in an unknown location after testing positive for COVID. As for Trump, he released a statement Friday saying the convoy "is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates." In the same statement, he accused "Facebook and Big Tech" of trying to silence the truckers by canceling their accounts; he also called out GoFundMe for canceling crowdfunding for the truckers and refunding donors. He suggested a similar convoy could descend on Washington, DC, and called for likeminded truckers to use his own upcoming social network—the release of which was recently delayed, per the Washington Examiner. (More Canada stories.)

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