Premier Doug Ford’s patience for the truckers convoy is wearing thin.
One day after saying he was “extremely disturbed” with the actions of some of those gathered in Ottawa, speaking to reporters in Ajax, Ont., Ford urged remaining members of the truckers convoy to go home and “let the people of Ottawa get back to their lives.”
“On the truckers side, I’ve always supported truckers from day one,” Ford said. “But I support vaccinations. It’s very simple. That’s how we have been able to slowly get out of this [pandemic], and that’s how we’ll continue to slowly get out of it.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has also urged the protesters to move on and says the city will encourage people to leave without inflaming the situation. Ottawa’s chief of police said that the force launched a hate crime hotline following reports of hate-fuelled violence outside Parliament over the weekend.
On Sunday, Shepherds of Good Hope — a homeless shelter in Ottawa’s downtown core — said some of its staff members were harassed for meals and that a service user and security guard were assaulted. The shelter said incessant honking and loud noises also created anxiety and distress for its residents.
“The staff and volunteers at our soup kitchen experienced verbal harassment and pressure from protestors seeking meals,” Shepherds of Good Hope said. “One member of our shelter community was assaulted by protestors. A security guard went to his aid and was threatened and called racial slurs.”
Photos showing members of the convoy with the Confederate flag and swastikas were witnessed at different times throughout the protests. The Ottawa Paramedic Association also reported that paramedics asked for police escorts after rocks were hurled at an ambulance from a truck in the convoy.
“I was extremely disturbed… to see some individuals desecrate our most sacred monuments and wave swastikas and other symbols of hate and intolerance this weekend,” Ford said in a statement on Monday.
“That has no place in Ontario or Canada. Not now. Not ever.”
Despite the actions of certain people who participated in the convoy, Ford said he still “thinks the world of the truckers.”
“People may disagree, one side or the other, but I am going to support getting vaccinated,” the Premier said. “That’s no shot against the truckers. I think the world of the truckers. I support them from day one and appreciate and am very grateful for everything they’ve done and continue to do throughout this pandemic.”
Like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ford thanked the 90 per cent of truckers that have chosen to get at least one vaccine dose.
Organizers behind the demonstration that has seized the nation’s capital said they’re prepared to stick around even longer by distributing fuel and supplies to the trucks clogging up Ottawa streets.
In a video posted online early this morning, Organizer Pat King says that the protest is “so much fun” and bragged that demonstrators have “all of Ottawa gridlocked right now.”
The ongoing protests in Canada have garnered attention south of the border, too.
Donald Trump himself shouted out Ottawa’s so-called “trucker convoy” during a speech Saturday in Texas. One of Trump’s most controversial supporters in Congress, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, also expressed solidarity.