By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Justin Trudeau said Canadians were “shocked and frankly disgusted” by some protesters’ behavior, which he claimed included vandalism and racial abuse.
Trudeau earlier called thousands marching against restrictions a “small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who is holding unacceptable views.”
Truck drivers calling themselves the “Freedom Convoy” have used their vehicles to gridlock Ottawa, and a state of emergency has been declared in the city. Protests have spread, including to two Canada-US border crossings where truckers protested for two weeks.
Speaking to parliament in Ottawa, Trudeau defended the COVID restrictions while police warned protesters could be arrested, and a conviction might cost them their jobs.
“Blockages, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers,” Trudeau told legislators Wednesday.
His words and police warnings did little to end protests, with two of the world’s biggest carmakers, Ford and Toyota, saying the truckers in Canada are disrupting production.
Plants have been forced to shut because car parts are being held up at two U.S border points blocked by truckers protesting against a vaccine mandate.
Truckers blocking the most important border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, waved Canadian flags and banners denouncing Prime Minister Trudeau. He has refused to scrap a rule requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immunized against COVID-19.
Canada’s Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra, called it an illegal economic blockade against all Canadians. The trade disruption is estimated to be costing $300 million a day, according to official estimates.
A Canadian court on Monday ordered the truckers to stop incessant honking that officials said upset residents and made sleep difficult.
That led to tensions with police detaining an elderly trucker who said he used honking to prevent a potentially deadly incident.
And the noise is spreading with similar movements emerging everywhere from New York to New Zealand.
On Thursday, police and anti-vaccine protesters reportedly clashed on the grounds of Wellington’s parliament, with dozens arrested.
In France, thousands of protesters inspired by the Canadian truckers plan to converge Friday evening on Paris, with some reportedly aiming to move onwards to Brussels on Monday.
Paris police have moved to prevent the protest, saying they would ban the so-called “freedom convoys.”
Security forces were due to deploy to prevent major roads from being blocked and threatening anyone who does so with a hefty fine or jail sentence.
Back in Canada, some 400 vehicles were still camped on Parliament Hill below Trudeau’s offices, against a backdrop of barbecues, campfires, and music. “We’re not going anywhere,” pledged trucker John Deelstra.
He and other truckers got at least moral support from former U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who said the “Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting.”
Trump added that the Canadian truckers are protesting “the harsh policies of far-left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates.”
GoFundMe removed an online fundraiser for the trucker convoy protests on Friday after raising more than $10 million.
“Facebook is canceling the accounts of Freedom Convoy USA, and GoFundMe is denying access to funds that belong to the Freedom Convoy,” complained Trump.
“This is unacceptable and extremely dangerous in any country that values free expression,” he added.
An online fundraiser for the trucker convoy protests was removed by GoFundMe last week after raising more than $10 million.
The attorney general of the U.S. state of Texas plans to launch an investigation into GoFundMe’s decision to take down the fundraiser.
Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would probe potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by the crowd-funding platform.
“GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Paxton stressed.
Yet, trucker Deelstra was still smiling from behind the wheel of his big vehicle in Ottawa.
He has been at the protest since day one.
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