Update: Ottawa Mayor declares state of emergency amid Covid-19 protests

The mayor of Canadian capital Ottawa has declared a state of emergency amid trucker protests against Covid-19 restrictions.Thousands descended on Ottawa over the weekend

Thousands of protesters descended in Ottawa on the weekend, joining a hundred who remained from last weekend.

The demonstrations began as truckers protested against vaccine requirements when crossing the border between the US and Canada, and later turned into a broader protest against Covid-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Last week, crowdfunding site GoFundMe pulled funds for the protests.

Mayor Jim Watson said that the declaration highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government.

The declaration gives the city additional powers around procurement and how it delivers services, and may also help the city purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders. Earlier in the day, Watson had described the situation as “completely out of control.”

“Clearly, we are outnumbered and we are losing this battle,” Watson told local radio station CFRA. Watson also called the truckers “insensitive,” criticizing the noise produced by the protests. According to Watson, protesters have continued “blaring horns and sirens and fireworks, and turning it into a party.”

Meanwhile, police announced new measures to stop people from helping the protesters.

“Anyone attempting to bring material support (gas, etc.) to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest,” Ottawa’s police force tweeted. Police also said that they had issued more than 450 tickets since Saturday.

Similar demonstrations hit Toronto, Quebec City and Winnipeg on Saturday. Police in Quebec City said some 30 big trucks were blocking a major artery and had been warned they would face fines if not moving soon. City council member Diane Deans said that the protests are “bigger than just a city of Ottawa problem, this is a nationwide insurrection.”

On Saturday, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly called the demonstrations a “siege” and asked for reinforcements. The federal Canadian Mounted police are due to send reinforcements of 250 officers to Ottawa.

The trucker protests have drawn support from members of the US Republican Party, including former President Donald Trump. Trump called Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far left lunatic” who has “destroyed Canada with insane Covid-19 mandates.”

On Sunday, a former US ambassador to Canada denounced such statements, saying that the US should stop interfering in the domestic affairs of its neighbor. “Canada US relations used to be mainly about solving technical issues,” Hayman tweeted.

“Today Canada is unfortunately experiencing radical US politicians involving themselves in Canadian domestic issues,” he added.

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