OTTAWA—Freedom Convoy organizers say they will continue to protest on Parliament Hill despite the federal government’s declaration of a state of emergency.
“We are not afraid. In fact, every time the government decides to further suspend our civil liberties, our resolve strengthens and the importance of our mission becomes clearer,” organizer Tamara Lich said on Feb. 14 in anticipation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoking the Emergencies Act over the protests demanding an end to COVID-19 mandates.
“We will remain peaceful, but planted on Parliament Hill until the mandates are decisively ended. We recognize that there is a democratic process within which change occurs. We have never stepped outside of that process, nor do we intend to.”
Trudeau is the first prime minister to use the Emergencies Act. The act replaces the War Measures Act, which was last used by Trudeau’s father, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, in 1970 during the October Crisis when Quebec separatists kidnapped and killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.
The act gives the state additional powers to deal with the protests and blockades, such as providing legal tools to cut funding to protesters, as well as freezing the corporate accounts of companies whose trucks are used in any blockades and removing their insurance.
The province of Ontario and the city of Ottawa have also declared states of emergency over the protests.
The protests were initiated by truck drivers opposed to COVID-19 vaccination mandates for cross-border travel. As convoys of truckers made their to Ottawa, many supporters joined the movement, which turned into a large-scale protest against all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. Many protesters who converged into Ottawa on Jan. 29 say they intend to stay in the capital until COVID-19 mandates are lifted.
By Limin Zhou and Omid Ghoreishi