Thousands in Ottawa protest COVID mandates, many rebuked

  • Supporters wave flags on an overpass Saturday in Kanata, Ontario, Canada, as a trucker convoy makes its way to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest virus mandates. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Thousands of protesters gathered in Canada’s capital on Saturday to protest vaccine mandates, masks and lockdowns. Some parked on the grounds of the National War Memorial and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, others carried signs and flags with swastikas and some used the statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox to display an anti-vaccine statement, sparking widespread condemnation.

“I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial. Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this. Those involved should hang their heads in shame,” tweeted Gen. Wayne Eyre, Canada’s the chief of the Defense Staff. Protesters compared vaccine mandates to fascism, one truck carried a Confederate flag and many carried expletive-laden signs targeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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The statue of Fox, a national hero who lost a leg to bone cancer as a youngster, then set off in 1980 on a fundraising trek across Canada, was draped with a upside down Canadian flag with a sign that said “mandate freedom.”

Trudeau retweeted a statement from The Terry Fox Foundation that said “Terry believed in science and gave his life to help others.”

Eric Simmons, from Oshawa, Ontario, said all vaccine mandates should be ended.

“They’re not effective, they’re not working. It’s not changing anything. We can’t keep living like this. People are losing their jobs because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” Simmons said.

The convoy of truckers and others prompted police to prepare for the possibility of violence. A top Parliament security official advised lawmakers to lock their doors amid reports their private homes may be targeted.

Trudeau has said Canadians are not represented by this “very troubling, small but very vocal minority of Canadians who are lashing out at science, at government, at society, at mandates and public health advice.”

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