“It has to stop,” Mr Trudeau said during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night following his return to parliament after isolating for a week due to a positive Covid-19 test.
“People of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighbourhoods, don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a confederate flag, or the insults and jeers just because they’re wearing a mask. That’s not who Canadians are,” the prime minister said. “These pandemic restrictions are not forever.”
The prime minister added: “This is a story of a country that got through this pandemic by being united, and a few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are.”
Mr Trudeau’s remarks on Monday have sparked anger among supporters of the truckers who say he is trying to label them as far-right extremists.
He was likely referring to the initial days of the protest two weekends ago when signs and flags with Nazi symbols were seen in the crowds alongside upside down Canadian flags and even a Trump 2024 and a confederate flag. There have been no recent sightings of swastikas or similar emblems.
Mr Trudeau is keen to point out that the truckers are representative of just a small portion of the population. Only approximately 10 per cent of Canadians remain unvaccinated, although as many as one-third are sympathetic to the protest, according to one survey.
“This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians,” he said. “Everyone’s tired of Covid, but these protests are not the way to get through it.”
The prime minister added: “But Canadians know the way to get through it is continuing to listen to science, continuing to lean on each other.”
He pledged that the federal government would provide support “with whatever resources the province and city need”. Last week he ruled out deploying the army to disperse the protestors “for now”.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has asked the federal government to send an additional 1,800 police officers and appoint a mediator to work with protesters to “end this siege”.
On Sunday, Mr Watson declared a state of emergency in the city, declaring the protests "out of control”. In addition to the forced closures of local businesses and blocked streets, downtown Ottawa residents were also harassed by incessant honking of truck air horns until a court order silenced them for ten days.
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